The man who pulled the trigger in a drive-by shooting that left a Turlock teenager paralyzed was sentenced to seven years plus 25 years to life in prison Dec. 10, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Luis Tafolla, 24, of Ceres was convicted on Oct. 9, 2012 of attempted murder, discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, assault with a semi-automatic firearm and participation in a criminal street gang for the shooting that critically wounded 16-year-old Eric Carrillo. The jury further found that Tafolla committed the attempted murder to benefit the Sureno gang.
On April 30, 2007, Carrillo was shot while walking along South Avenue near Wakefield Elementary School. At the trial, Carrillo testified a white car with four men inside pulled up alongside him and asked him if “he banged.” Carrillo said he told them no and asked if they had a problem with that. It was at that point that Tafolla pulled out a gun and shot the teenager.
The bullet struck Carrillo in the face and lodged in his neck, causing the paralysis.
Investigators learned Carrillo was targeted because he was wearing a red Atlanta Falcons jersey and the men, all documented members of the Sureno street gang, believed he was a member of their rivals, the Nortenos.
The district attorney’s office said Tafolla and the others with him were looking for revenge for a drive-by shooting that happened weeks before and a friend’s house.
Prior to the sentencing, Carrillo spoke to the court and Tafolla, telling him he “was not a gang member” and that he was just a kid who “loved sports and to work on cars.”
“This (his injury) has limited me. I’m not the type that holds a grudge against my shooter. I forgive him,” Carrillo said.
Tafolla was arrested nearly a month after the shooting. During the investigation he admitted to detectives that he was the one who pulled the trigger.
Tafolla was the last of the four men involved in the shooting to be tried and sentenced. 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, 23, accepted a plea deal with the district attorney’s office. In exchange for his testimony against the others, he was treated as a juvenile and would be held in custody until he is 25 years of age.
Tafolla’s public defender filed a request to have the verdict vacated and a new trial set on Dec. 10, and it was denied by the judge.