WALLA WALLA — A man who earlier pleaded guilty to involvement in the shootings of two people in a car last summer won’t have to spend anymore time locked up in the County Jail or prison.
Gerald Candelario Gonzalez Jr., 21, was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to 49 days. He then was given credit for that period he was jailed from Nov. 28, when he was arrested, until Jan. 16, the day he was released with conditions after entering his guilty plea to the felony charge of conspiracy to commit drive-by shooting.
He claimed not to have been involved and was pleading guilty to take advantage of a plea bargain with Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle, who agreed to recommend time-served in exchange for various concessions.
A subsequent polygraph exam reportedly was inconclusive as to Gonzalez’s claimed lack of involvement.
Had the polygraph found Gonzalez was telling the truth, Nagle would have agreed to a defense motion to withdraw the guilty plea.
Regardless, initial charges of two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of first-degree malicious mischief and one count of drive-by shooting were dropped.
And in imposing the time-served sentence Monday, Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram went along with the prosecution sentencing recommendation. In doing so, Gonzalez escaped a standard-range prison term of about 23-31 months in prison, based on his four prior convictions.
Gonzalez was ordered to pay at least $7,217 in restitution, court costs and fees.
Defense attorney Andrea Burkhart told Wolfram before the sentence was imposed that Gonzalez is a young man with a child who is relocating to another part of the state “so he can hopefully move on and have a productive life.”
Officials believe co-defendant Carlito Angelino Garcia was the main instigator of the Walla Walla shootings that injured a man and his girlfriend near Sixth Avenue and Moore Street in July.
Therefore, Nagle reached agreements with Gonzalez and two other co-defendants. Under terms of the agreement with Gonzalez, he would not seek the identity of a confidential informant in the case, was to submit to the polygraph exam and will testify truthfully against Garcia.
Garcia, 19, was booked into the Benton County Jail on Dec. 11 for an unrelated crime and now is serving a 30-month prison term.
Garcia faces the same charges here that initially were filed against Gonzalez, in addition to a firearm possession charge. Garcia made his first appearance in court Monday.
Authorities accused Gonzalez — a reported gang member — of driving a white truck occupied by three armed passengers that arrived near Sixth Avenue and Moore Street early on the morning of July 20.
The occupants reportedly displayed a gang hand sign, and several suspects fired multiple times at Johnny A. Jimenez and his girlfriend, Tracy A. Diaz Bobadilla, who were in Diaz Bobadilla’s 2007 Nissan Altima.
Jimenez tried to back up the Altima to escape the continued shooting and crashed into the building at 400 W. Moore St. Those in the white truck fled.
Jimenez suffered a gunshot wound to his left torso near his hip.
Diaz Bobadilla was shot in her right shoulder area and the outside of her right knee.
They were taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center, where they were treated and released.
The attacks were witnessed by the confidential informant who later spoke with detectives, according to a police report filed in court.
A specific motive for the shootings wasn’t clear, although police said victim Jimenez affiliates with a rival gang.
Two of the four suspects — Gonzalez’s brother, Cisco Antonio Gonzalez, 18, and Cristian Bianey Jaimes, 20 — were arrested Aug. 22 and each has since pleaded guilty, under terms of similar plea agreements, to conspiracy to commit drive-by shooting.
Jaimes was sentenced to the time he served in jail until his release with conditions Sept. 27.
Cisco Gonzalez hasn’t yet been sentenced.