A Lake County man was found guilty Thursday of armed robbery and attempted murder in the 2016 holdup of a Loomis truck outside a Windsor bank in which he shot the guard with an assault rifle.
The verdict for Ivan Morales, 25, came after six days of deliberation and two months of testimony following a trial that was interrupted by the October wildfires.
Two jurors wept as the verdict was read. Morales, who stood beside his lawyer in a tan suit, his long black hair tied in a ponytail, showed no emotion. He faces more than 30 years in prison at his March 8 sentencing.
“He made a bad decision,” juror Tracy Warner of Santa Rosa said outside the courtroom. “I think we’re pretty solid on that.”
The four-man, eight-woman panel cleared Morales of other charges including shooting at a police officer in Calistoga, where he was captured with his accomplice, Sergy Gutsu, also 25, of Antelope. Gutsu, who was being tried alongside Morales, ended his case abruptly in early December, pleading no contest to shooting at the officer and other charges.
He faces more than 51 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 25. He is expected to be shipped to Southern California to face an unrelated murder charge.
The two men, childhood friends, robbed the armored truck July 12, 2016 as it was making rounds at the Lakewood Village shopping center.
Morales emerged from a stolen car driven by Gutsu and shot and wounded the 55-year-old guard, identified in court only as Glenn, with an AK-47 rifle.
He grabbed a bag containing $30,000 in cash and the pair sped off, switching cars down the street before fleeing east over the hills to Calistoga.
Responding to an alert, Officer Luis Paniagua spotted the robbers and followed their car until it stopped. Gutsu hopped out and shot at Paniagua, who smashed his patrol car into Gutsu, injuring him. Morales fled on foot but was captured the same day.
Both men faced the same charges. Thursday, jurors said they were split over whether Morales was responsible for shooting at the officer. But they said it was clear he shot the guard.
“We figured that out right away,” said a male juror from Santa Rosa who declined to give his name.
Other jurors reported they cried in the deliberation room over the prospect of convicting a young man to crimes carrying life in prison. One woman said she had a daughter Morales’ age.
“We were all very upset,” said forewoman Janelle Amer of Petaluma said. “It’s emotional to make these decisions.”
Gutus, a convicted felon, is suspected in a number of other crimes spanning the state including the 2015 murder of a San Dimas sandwich shop owner.
Judge Patrick Broderick commended jurors for persevering after the fires, which upset court operations and claimed the homes of two jurors. When the trial resumed after a two-week break, all 31 jurors and alternates showed up, he told the panel.
“I will tell you after the tremendous suffering in the community and the fires we had ... each and every one of you returned with courage and tenacity,” Broderick said.