Monday, April 22, 2013
WALLA WALLA — Two men have pleaded guilty in Superior Court to reduced charges in connection with what police say was a gang-related, drive-by shooting at Howard and Tietan streets in 2011.
Daniel Ramos-Lara, 27, entered his plea this morning to a charge of complicity to drive-by shooting. Officials said he shot at rival gang members from a moving vehicle, but apparently nobody was hurt.
Co-defendant Francisco Casillas Jr. — the driver, who admitted aiding and abetting — pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree assault while armed with a deadly weapon.
Ramos-Lara initially was charged with four counts of first-degree assault and one count each of drive-by shooting and riot. Casillas faced charges of complicity to the crimes. Had they been convicted of those charges, each would have faced decades in prison.
But Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden said in an interview he agreed to reduce the cases because of defenses that would have been raised had they gone to trial, in addition to anticipated problems with uncooperative witnesses that may have resulted in acquittals.
Ramos-Lara and Casillas were arrested in October 2011.
Ramos-Lara has been in the County Jail since then, a total of about 18 months, and also is being held for immigration authorities. His plea agreement ultimately recommends a time-served sentence.
Casillas, 31, faces a standard-range prison term of 15-21 months, with credit for more than three months he served in jail before being released on bail in January 2012.
Judge John Lohrmann will impose sentences later. He is not bound by any recommendation.
Officials said Ramos-Lara and other gang members were in an extended-cab Chevrolet pickup — driven by Casillas — that was chasing rival gang members in a Chevy Tahoe about 5:40 p.m. July 28, 2011.
As the vehicles were heading north on Howard at Tietan, Ramos-Lara — a front-seat passenger in the pickup — fired shots from a .22-caliber revolver at the fleeing Tahoe in a northeasterly direction, according to authorities.
A witness told police the Tahoe then headed east on Tietan and the pickup fled either west on Tietan or continued north on Howard.
A bullet penetrated a window of a residence, but no one in the house was injured.
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.