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Petaluma man sentenced to two years in Santa Rosa restaurant slaying


A 23-year-old Petaluma man who was an accessory to a December slaying outside a Santa Rosa restaurant was sentenced Monday to two years in Sonoma County jail.

Daniel Calderon-Escobido pleaded no contest to concealing a handgun that prosecutors maintain was used to kill Christopher Medina, also 23, of Santa Rosa, at El Puente Cantina on Dec. 3.

Witnesses said the shooting happened after a fistfight between Medina's cousin and the alleged gunman, 17-year-old Jose Campos-Mendoza, who is charged with murder.

About a dozen of the victim's family members filed into court Monday morning wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Medina, who went by the nickname "Beto."

None spoke before Judge Dana Simonds handed down the sentence, but Medina's mother said through prosecutor Craig Brooks that "God forgive the defendant."

"This is an extremely serious matter," Simonds told Calderon-Escobido, who was standing beside his lawyer in a blue jail uniform. "You were present at the scene when two people were shot and one of them was killed."

Simonds said Calderon-Escobido would "still be running today" if he hadn't been caught by bar security after being handed the gun.

Although he had been a Petaluma farm laborer for the past six years, Calderon-Escobido expressed a desire to return to Mexico and re-join the military. Simonds denied a request for probation and sentenced him to the middle term, which makes him eligible for release in about eight months, said his lawyer, Walter Rubenstein.

The accused shooter, Campos-Mendoza, and a third defendant, Alfonso Mendoza Ramirez, 18, also of Santa Rosa remain behind bars and are headed toward trial.

Campos-Mendoza, who was being housed at juvenile hall, has been charged as an adult. A hearing is March 1 for entry of plea and to set a trial date.

Details of the killing emerged in a probation report released Monday.

Witnesses said the fight started after a night of heavy drinking and stemmed from an argument over someone dancing with Calderon-Escobido's girlfriend.

Another account said Medina punched the minor after he commented he wanted to kill a member of a "certain family."

At about 1:45 a.m., Campos-Mendoza squared off in a bar patio with Medina's cousin, Julian Loeza, 21, also of Santa Rosa.

After several people broke it up, Campos-Mendoza and Calderon-Escobido walked to a car and returned with a gun, police said.

When security guard Paul Harris tried to take the gun from Campos-Mendoza, he began firing, shooting a bullet between Harris's legs and firing another shot that missed his head.

Witnesses said Campos-Mendoza fired at Medina and Loeza, missing them at first but then hitting Medina five times and Loeza twice.

Officer Andrew Riley said Medina was lying in a pool of blood when officers arrived. He later died of head and neck wounds at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Loeza was struck in the hip.

He told police Campos-Mendoza had flashed the gun earlier in the evening. Other witnesses said the minor had two guns tucked in his waistband at one point.

After the shooting, Loeza said Campos-Mendoza and Calderon-Escobido ran from the scene. He said the minor fired at Harris when he tried to chase them.

Campos-Mendoza was arrested nearby, running on the Corby Avenue exit of Highway 101.

Calderon-Escobido returned to the bar with the gun moments later and was arrested.

He was carrying a black semiautomatic pistol with an empty magazine. Harris told police he and Campos-Mendoza had been "passing a gun back and forth."

When asked by police if Campos-Mendoza was the shooter, he said, "Yes, it was him," according to the probation report.

Portions of the shooting were caught on a surveillance camera outside the cantina.