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FAYETTEVILLE -- A Washington County circuit judge was right when he refused to transfer a capital murder case to juvenile court, the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled in an opinion released Thursday.

Three men were standing near a car in Springdale in April 2015 when four men in a blue Ford Focus pulled up and demanded to know their gang affiliations, police said. One of the three said he was in a gang, and one of the people in the car opened fire, killing Jimmy Rodriguez, 20, police said.

Police and prosecutors said the shooting was gang-related retaliation, but Rodriguez wasn't the intended target. The man police said they wanted to kill, Pascual Carbajal, wasn't there.

Giovanni Vasquez-Sanchez, who police said was the driver of the car, is charged with accomplice to capital murder and accomplice to the unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle. Accomplice to capital murder is punishable by death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Vasquez-Sanchez, because he was 17 at the time, isn't subject to the death penalty. Unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle is a felony punishable by 10-40 years or life in prison.

Lawyers for Vasquez-Sanchez, 20, asked Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay in February to transfer the case to juvenile court. Prosecutors opposed the move, and Lindsay denied the transfer request.

In his order, Lindsay noted that the killing happened three days before Vasquez-Sanchez turned 18 and Vasquez-Sanchez could be held at the state Division of Youth Services only until 21, which would not be enough time to rehabilitate him.

Lindsay added that Vasquez-Sanchez is an admitted gang member who has an extensive juvenile court history.

The judge agreed with prosecutors that there is ample evidence that the crime was aggressive, violent, premeditated and willful.

Rodolfo Alberto Martinez, 21, the gunman, was convicted in August of capital murder, two counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle and three counts of committing a terroristic act. Martinez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jose Andrew Delatorre, 21, pleaded guilty in September to accomplice to second-degree murder. Lindsay sentenced Delatorre to 20 years in prison. He was given credit for 891 days of time already served in jail.

The other person in the car was a 13-year-old juvenile. State law prohibits the release of information about juvenile arrest records and court proceedings.

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Metro on 12/10/2017

Print Headline: Court upholds transfer denial

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