A convicted killer who was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison four years ago had his sentence reduced to 12 years Monday.
Anthony Pesqueira, 25, was convicted of first-degree murder in August 2008 in the death of Victor Rivera, 28.
Former Judge Jose Robles ruled a few months ago that Pesqueira's original defense attorney, Brick Storts, didn't tell Pesqueira the state was willing to let him plead guilty to manslaughter.
As a result of Storts' error, Robles ordered the state to reoffer the same plea, but he didn't immediately accept the plea. Instead, he said he'd make a decision as to whether the plea could go forward after he got some input from the murder victim's family on the matter.
Robles heard from the family, took the matter under advisement, but then resigned a short time later.
Judge Michael Cruikshank accepted the plea agreement last month. Under the terms of the agreement, he was facing between seven and 15 years in prison.
Rivera was shot outside the Diamond Shamrock gas station at East 22nd Street and South Park Avenue on May 15, 2007.
Pesqueira testified during his trial that he'd had a run-in with Rivera a few days before the shooting, and, because he had heard Rivera was looking for him, had decided to arm himself.
Pesqueira told jurors he pulled into the gas station that day for the sole purpose of getting gas and Rivera reached for his waistline after the two made eye contact.
He reached between the front seats of his Buick Regal for his gun and fired toward Rivera without stopping and without aiming, Pesqueira testified.
The prosecutor at the time, Michael Kelly, told jurors Rivera's cell-phone records show he was receiving a phone call at the exact time he was shot in the heart.
That detail, combined with the fact no gun was found on or near Rivera's body, proved he was no threat to Pesqueira, Kelly said.
After the shooting, Pesqueira painted his car, removed its license plates and got rid of the weapon, Kelly said.
The police were able to identify Pesqueira as a suspect with the help of a grainy surveillance tape and two witnesses - one who provided a partial license plate number and a half-blind homeless man who picked him out of a lineup, Kelly said.
In seeking a mitigated sentence, Pesqueira's new defense attorney, Harley Kurlander, told Cruikshank that Pesqueira lied at trial at the behest of Storts. As a result, Kelly was able to make his story "sound foolish and contrived," and the jury convicted him of first-degree murder instead of a less serious crime.
The truth is Pesqueira was at the gas station that day to sell drugs to the half-blind homeless man, Kurlander said.
If Pesqueira had testified truthfully, "the truth would have made more sense as to why Pesqueira was there," Kurlander said.
Kurlander told Cruikshank Pesqueira's felony conviction was his first, he's taking educational classes in prison and finished a substance-abuse recovery program.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org