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Orange County gang member sentenced in attempted murder of homeowner who saw him spraying graffiti

April 2, 2010 |  2:28 pm

A Garden Grove gang member was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in prison for the attempted murder of a father of five, who was left with brain damage and in a wheelchair as a result of a graffiti-related shooting.

Ivan Garcia, 26, was convicted in February of street terrorism and attempted murder for shooting David Puga after the homeowner saw him tagging a block wall on a cul-de-sac.

Garcia was tied to the brutal April 2008 attack by his DNA, which was left on a discarded spray paint can near the crime scene, prosecutors said. As a result of the shooting, part of Pugh’s brain had to be removed and he was left with memory loss and a lack of motor and verbal functions, they said.

Before the sentence was handed down, Puga's wife, Dorothy, told of the impact on her husband.

“All I have to say to you, Ivan, is that you will suffer in jail like my husband has to suffer for the rest of his life,” she said in court, according to prosecutors. “You have not only hurt our family, but by the way I see your mother crying in the courtroom, you have hurt your family as well.”

Puga and his wife were returning home from the grocery store the night of the attack. Puga went out to move a car from the street to the driveway and spotted Garcia and another man tagging a block wall by crossing out a rival gang's graffiti.

Garcia then pulled out a gun and shot the 45-year-old Puga three times in the neck, arm and foot and continued to fire as Puga tried to escape by crawling back into his home, prosecutors said.

After hearing the gunshots and finding her wounded husband, Puga’s wife called 911. Witnesses saw Garcia and another gang member toss the spray-paint can into a Dumpster near a convenience store.

In August 2008, forensic experts matched it to Garcia’s DNA, which was in the state criminal database because he had been convicted that year of being an accessory after the fact in a gang murder.

One of Puga's daughters, who was 16 at the time of the attack and whose name was not released, recalled the attack in court before Garcia was sentenced.

“I will never forget the way my dad was looking at me as he lay on the driveway on his back with blood pouring out his neck,” she stated, according to prosecutors. “I was screaming out loud, 'Dad, please don’t die!'”

-- Richard Winton