SANTA ANA — A 25-year-old gang member with previous felony convictions was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for gunning down a 20-year-old man in a mid-afternoon drive-by shooting in Santa Ana.
Edgar Macias Martinez was convicted April 26 of first-degree murder with special circumstances of a drive-by shooting and murder for the benefit of a gang. He was also convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm with a sentencing enhancement for discharge of a firearm causing death.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary Paer tacked on 29 years to life at Friday’s sentencing.
Martinez was convicted of killing 20-year-old Alex Ruiz of Garden Grove on Aug. 15, 2022.
Martinez and another man “drove into the heart of his rival gang territory… with the intent to shoot at whatever gang member he came across,” Deputy District Attorney Mallory Miller said in her opening statement of the trial.
Surveillance video showed the killer leaning out of the passenger-side window of a Chevrolet Equinox crossover SUV at 3:19 p.m. and opening fire on Ruiz, who was with his friend, Andres Ponce, at 1726 N. Spurgeon St., between Main Street and the Santa Ana (5) Freeway, less than one block north of 17th Street.
Ruiz, who was shot in the chest once, was taken to OC Global Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:05 p.m.
“Mr. Ruiz ultimately bled to death,” Miller said, referring to massive internal bleeding the victim suffered.
Police managed to determine part of the car’s license plate number from surveillance video, Miller said. They also used surveillance video to track its movements before and after the shooting, she said.
A detective recognized the car from a separate crime, which led police to the registered owner, the defendant’s sister, Miller said. When they went to Martinez’s residence they saw the suspect’s car there, she added.
Martinez’s sister told detectives he borrowed her car that afternoon and when he returned home it appeared he had been to a local fitness center, Miller said.
Police obtained surveillance video of Martinez arriving at a fitness center at Main Place Mall minutes after the shooting, Miller said.
“Mr. Ponce is going to have to deal with being with his friend when he was shot to death for the rest of his life,” Miller said. “This is a classic drive-by gang murder.”
Martinez’s attorney, Jonathan Lynn, said Ponce picked someone else out of a lineup. Lynn also noted that police did not test Martinez’s hands for gunshot residue.
“There’s no murder weapon that was found,” Lynn said.
Lynn also said there is nothing on social media that would indicate that Martinez had any gang connections.
Martinez was out on bail at the time of the shooting on a felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon and being a prohibited person owning ammunition as well as bringing or sending drugs into jail, according to court records.
Martinez pleaded guilty in April 2021 to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Martinez pleaded guilty in February 2017 to participating in gang activity and conspiracy to commit assault with a semiautomatic firearm with a sentencing enhancement for gang activity. When he was 17 he was convicted in juvenile court of robbery in May 2015, according to court records.
Source: Orange County Register
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