Man to stand trial in Santa Cruz wharf gang shooting

SANTA CRUZ — A 23-year-old Santa Cruz man will stand to face criminal charges at trial, a judge ruled Monday.

Christian Meza-Reyes is charged with gang-related attempted murder for allegedly shooting a 17-year-old teen nearly a year ago on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. Earlier, Meza-Reyes’ former four co-defendants in the case each pleaded to lesser charges in plea deals with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office.

According to testimony in a three-day preliminary hearing, Meza-Reyes and a group of friends and associates were drinking and socializing at the end of the wharf after an earlier fundraiser party for a friend who had died. Two vehicles — one allegedly including Meza-Reyes as a passenger — were leaving the wharf shortly after midnight, according to testimony and wharf surveillance videos shared at the hearing. The driver of the other vehicle, including at least three occupants, noticed several individuals with a Jaguar SUV parked on the wharf near a kayak rental kiosk and did a U-turn so as to pass the other group three times. Allegedly, the vehicle with Meza-Reyes as a passenger joined the first car on its final pass, when the two vehicles stopped just past the Jaguar.

The Jaguar group asked why the vehicles had stopped and its allegedly masked occupants were “mean mugging” them, a Santa Cruz police officer testified. In return, the Jaguar’s passengers were asked if they “belonged” on the wharf and where they were from, officer Trevor Kendall testified, per his interview with the victims. The Jaguar’s occupants drove from the wharf in a hail of bullets, with at least 13 casings later found at the scene by police, according to testimony. One of the vehicle’s teenage occupants was shot in the leg, according to testimony.

Under questioning by defense attorney Roland Soltesz, Santa Cruz police detective Dave Rosell confirmed that wharf surveillance video footage of the shooting does not identify who fired a gun during the shooting.

Also charged in the case were co-defendants Angel Paulina Cabrera, 24, and Said Paredes-Cazares, 24, both of Santa Cruz; and Ivan Cholico, 24, of Watsonville. The three each pleaded no contest to reduced charges on Aug. 31. Joseph Ibarra, 21, of Live Oak, followed suit with a similar deal Sept. 6, pleading to reduced charges of felony exhibiting a deadly weapon, plus a criminal enhancement for gang-related conduct. Ibarra was sentenced to time already served, plus two years of formal supervised probation, and was released from custody. Related Articles

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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