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Gang member who shot wrong man at O.C. restaurant gets 50 years

December 7, 2012 |  6:50 pm

Ivan-SanchezAn Orange County gang member was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life for a shooting a man he mistook for someone else at a Santa Ana restaurant last year, prosecutors said

Ivan Sanchez, 23, was found guilty in September of one felony count of murder for the 2011 death of Esteban Navarrete outside the Mariscos La Ola restaurant, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

On the night of Feb. 13, 2011, prosecutors said, Sanchez and two others -- Ricardo Guerra Rocha and Rocha's older sister, Maria Isabel Rocha -- got into an argument with another customer at the Santa Ana restaurant, fighting over which state in Mexico was better. The three left the restaurant, drove to get a firearm and returned, prosecutors said.

When they arrived, Navarrete, 35, was leaving and getting into a car with his wife and a friend. He did not know the three, and was not the person involved in the earlier argument.

Maria Rocha waited in her car as Ricardo Rocha and Sanchez approached Navarrete, prosecutors said. Navarrete got out of his car and attempted to explain that he, his wife and friend were not involved in the earlier argument.

But Sanchez shot Navarrete once in the head, prosecutors said. 

Sanchez was arrested days later during a traffic stop as he was being driven to Mexico to escape arrest, prosecutors said. The driver of that car, Manuel Toscano, 22, has been charged with one felony count of accessory after the fact, prosecutors said.

Maria Rocha and Ricardo Rocha surrendered to Santa Ana police Feb. 18.

Prosecutors said that both Rochas previously pleaded guilty, with Ricardo Rocha sentenced in September to 40 years to life in state prison on one felony count each of murder and street terrorism and Maria Rocha sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison for one felony count of voluntary manslaughter.


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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Ivan Sanchez. Credit: Santa Ana Police