A man who capped off a dispute with his sister’s boyfriend by gunning him down on a sidewalk in Santa Ana before running away to Mexico was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday.
Adan Rodriguez Leon, 34, his sister, Lorena Reynero, and her boyfriend Paul Guzman, 39, grew up the same neighborhood and all knew each other. All three had another thing in common — drug abuse, the prosecutor said.
Jurors also found true a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a gun in the case against Leon.
Leon was convicted of killing Guzman on the afternoon of April 8, 2015.
Guzman was shot after the defendant confronted him about partying in his sisters’ parents’ home while they were away and taking Leon’s tools, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke.
When Leon was told his tools had been taken, he went to Guzman’s residence, where his sister was staying, to confront them, Burke said. First he spoke with his sister and then asked to talk to Guzman, the prosecutor said.
The two walked a short distance down the sidewalk before Guzman stopped and put down the beer he had been drinking and Leon opened fire with a .22- caliber revolver, hitting the victim with four bullets, Burke alleged.
Leon ran away, ditched his jacket with the gun in a trash can and then got a worker to drive him the rest of the way home in his truck before he took off for Mexico, Burke said.
“Mr. Guzman was not assaulting or touching Mr. Leon in any way,” Burke told jurors. “In fact, when he was shot, his arms were down by his side.”
“None of them was working very steadily,” Burke said. “They just had a lot of problems.”
Reynero “was not in good graces” with her parents and wasn’t welcome in their home. But shortly before the shooting, she and Guzman broke into her parents’ home, where they stayed for a short time and swiped Leon’s tools to hock to “support their drug habit,” Burke said.
Video surveillance footage from a home on the 1100 block of Chestnut Avenue shows the shooting, Burke said.
“He does not have a weapon and he’s not moving toward the defendant,” Burke said of the posture of both men before the shooting.
Guzman was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at an area hospital, Burke said.
The defendant made it to Mexico but was back in the United States within a few days, the prosecutor said.
When questioned by police, Leon denied having anything to do with the shooting. When he was asked what he was doing in Mexico, Leon responded, “I had actually gone to take, uh, my grandma some, some of her medication.”
When asked about a “serious” incident involving him, Leon said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have no comment,” according to video showing him being questioned.
Leon’s attorney, Jacob DeGrave, acknowledged his client “shot Mr. Guzman, but it was done in self-defense and he is not guilty of murder.”
When Leon went to see his sister and Guzman, he brought a gun he often had on him for “protection,” DeGrave said. “It wasn’t his intent to use it.”
Guzman was a full foot taller than the defendant, who feared the victim because he was known to carry a knife, DeGrave said.
When Leon demanded his tools back, Guzman “threatened to kill” the defendant, DeGrave alleged.
“Mr. Leon’s heart begins to beat faster and he’s afraid,” DeGrave said. “He thinks there’s a fight about to happen and he’s going to be beaten up or killed… He’s not thinking, he’s afraid.”
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–City News Service
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