BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Two men were each sentenced to more than a decade in prison — receiving less time than what probation officials recommended — in connection with a 2018 shooting at an Arvin cockfighting party that wounded a man in the leg.
The shooter, Daniel Ulloa, 21, received 18 years and six months in prison. Co-defendant Ricardo Villasenor got 12 years.
Judge Charles R. Brehmer said he deviated from the sentences originally recommended because he believed the terms he imposed were appropriate under the circumstances. He said he would not hand out more time just because he could.
Probation had recommended Ulloa receive 25 years and six months in prison, and Villasenor 15 years.
“I would not say you are a bad person,” Brehmer told Ulloa. “I would say you’ve made some bad decisions. But that does not make you a bad person.”
The judge made similar comments to Villasenor.
Brehmer denied a motion for a new trial filed by Ulloa’s attorney, Tony Lidgett, who argued there was no evidence to support allegations the crime was gang-related. Lidgett said there should have been no mention of gang evidence at trial and its inclusion was prejudicial to his client.
Lidgett wrote in his motion: “The evidence presented as to Mr. Ulloa’s gang membership consisted of the following: 1) In 2015, he, and another juvenile with gang ties, burglarized the latter’s neighbor’s house which appeared to have been abandoned; 2) In 2017, he possessed a gun at his own residence; and 3) three-dots on the inner portion of one finger…AND NOTHING ELSE!!!” Lidgett included the emphasis in the motion.
The attorney also argued a prosecution witness lied under oath, and told the court he had heard but could not confirm that the shooting victim had been offered citizenship in exchange for his testimony. Lidgett acknowledged it was hearsay, but said he wanted it on record in case evidence turns up that an offer was made.
Villasenor’s attorney, Mai Shawwa, joined in his motion.
Prosecutor Leanne Wilder said her office made no offer of citizenship to the victim. She said the District Attorney’s office is not able to be a part of the citizenship process; it’s up to the individual.
The jury asked questions as it deliberated and performed its duties and she does not believe it was prejudiced by the gang evidence, she said.
In denying the motion, Brehmer said he was involved in a discussion with the attorneys as to whether there was anything to disclose regarding a citizenship offer made in return for the victim’s testimony. There was nothing, he said.
The case has its origins in a July 26, 2018, party at a corral in Arvin where it’s alleged cockfighting and arm-wrestling were taking place. Police were called to the party’s location on Fallbrook Avenue and found a man suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg.
Police learned Arvina gang members had been at the corral when an argument broke out and Ulloa punched someone in the face and ran, according to the prosecutor’s office.
While he was gone, Villasenor, armed with a gun, blocked the only exit and prevented three people from leaving, prosecutors said. Ulloa returned with another person and directed him to attack one of the people, according to a District Attorney’s office release.
During the fight, Ulloa drew a gun and fired two rounds, one of which hit the victim in the left upper thigh, prosecutors said. Ulloa and Villasenor then fled.
Ulloa was convicted last month of attempted voluntary manslaughter, assault with a firearm on a person, gang participation and a misdemeanor assault charge. The jury acquitted Ulloa of attempted murder before finding him guilty of the lesser crime of attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Villasenor was found guilty of three counts of false imprisonment with violence, gang participation and carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle.