After three days of deliberations a Stanislaus County jury returned guilty verdicts for a 22-year-old man charged with shooting a Turlock teenager because of the color of his shirt.
The jury of five men and seven women returned verdicts in three of the four counts against Luis Manuel Tafolla, but came back deadlocked on one charge.
Tafolla was found guilty on the charges of attempted murder, assaulting a person with a semiautomatic firearm and participating in a criminal street gang. The jury did find the enhancement that Tafolla committed the shooting for the benefit of a criminal street gang true. The jury was deadlocked 10 to 2 on a charge of conspiracy.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Valli Israels questioned the jury on if any further instructions or discussion might help them reach and verdict and because one juror did not answer with a definitive no, the judge sent them back for further deliberations. The jury returned to the courtroom less than 30 minutes later and the jury foreperson said they were “at a log-jam” and the chance of them reaching a unanimous decision was “worse now than ever.”
The judge ruled a mistrial in the count alleging the conspiracy. The jury also did not reach a decision on an enhancement of the attempted murder charge that Tafolla acted with premeditation and deliberation when he shot Eric Carrillo on April 30, 2007. Carrillo, who was 17 at the time, was shot by while walking at night along South Avenue near Wakefield Elementary School in Turlock. He testified on the first day of the trial that a white car with four men inside stopped in front of him and that a man, later identified as Tafolla got out of the vehicle and asked him if “he banged.” Carrillo testified he told the man no and asked if he had a problem with that then he said the man pulled out a gun and shot him. The bullet hit Carrillo in the face and lodged into his neck. The shooting has left Carrillo paralyzed.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office says Tafolla targeted Carrillo because he was wearing a red Atlanta Falcons jersey and Tafolla, who was a Sureno, was looking to exact some revenge for a drive-by shooting that happened weeks before at a friend’s house. Carrillo was not affiliated with any gang.
Tafolla was arrested nearly a month after the shooting and during the investigation he admitted to detectives that he was the one who pulled the trigger. The videotaped interview between Tafolla and investigators was shown to the jury.
Tafolla was the last of four men to be tried for the shooting. In previous court proceedings Armando Zaragoza pled no contest to being an accessory and Marco Antonio Moreno Robles was found guilty of attempted murder and being an accessory. Robles was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years and eight months in prison. The third man, Ricardo Ordaz, has agreed to a plea deal with the district attorney’s office that in exchange for his testimony he would be treated as a juvenile and held in custody until he is 25 years of age. Ordaz is currently 22 years old. He has been held at the Stanislaus County Jail and has a court appearance scheduled for Oct. 16.
A sentencing hearing for Tafolla has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 4. Tafolla is facing a possible life sentence.