Man sentenced for killing Army veteran in 2015

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A man found guilty of killing a veteran back in 2015 received his sentencing Tuesday.

Gabriel Verdugo Jr., 25, was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the murder of Elvis Garcia-Gonzalez, 30, a decorated combat veteran of the U.S. Army and 10th Mountain Division. 

On Aug. 8, 2015 at approximately 1:45 a.m. Gonzalez was at the El Scorpion Bar located at 3933 S. Chester Ave. in South Bakersfield. While at the bar, Gonzalez was approached by a subject later identified as Verdugo.

The two started arguing and during the confrontation, Verdugo produced a gun and shot Gonzalez one time, killing him. Verdugo fled the scene immediately, according to the district attorney’s office. 

On June 6, 2017, Kern County Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives received information from the Bakersfield Police Department’s Gang Suppression Unit that Verdugo had been located in Mexico.

With the assistance of the United States Marshals Service and Mexican Authorities, Verdugo was extradited to Kern County.

Earlier this month, he was found guilty of first-degree murder. 

During his time with the U.S. Army, Garcia-Gonzalez was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and the Army Good Conduct Medal, among other distinctions, according to the district attorney’s office. Upon completion of his service to our country,  Garcia-Gonzalez began working for the Employment Development Department in Bakersfield and Porterville, where he served a s a Disabled Veteran’s Outreach Program Specialist, providing guidance and service to other veterans with barriers to employment.

Before his death, Garcia-Gonzalez had been recognized for his service to his country, as well as to his state and local communities, including via proclamations from the California State Assembly as well as the Employment Development Department regarding his work to expand the Tulare Public Library to include a Veteran’s Resource Center that has assisted hundreds of veterans since opening its doors in February of 2015. 

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