Man sentenced to life in prison

Feb. 18, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 17, 2011 at 8:18 p.m.

A Victoria gang member was sentenced to life in prison Friday for murder.

On Thursday, the same jury found Enrique Guayo Guerra, also known as "Ricky," 19, of Victoria, guilty of murder for shooting to death 21-year-old Joe Angel Caltzontzin.

Guerra claimed he shot him in self-defense, fearing the man has a knife.

"I don't second-guess what the jury does. What they did was appropriate. It's a heavy burden," said Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler. "There's tragedy. Tragedy in the way he was raised. Tragedy in taking another life. It's sad when someone loses their liberty for the rest of their days."

Tom Copeland, a lieutenant with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, testified that Guerra's involvement with the Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos made him a continued threat to society.

"They are a danger to everyone. If they get the idea to kill a 6-year-old or his father to be a part of the group, they will do it," said Copeland, who did not know the defendant but has worked a number of HPL and other gang-related cases. "The (young members) are much more dangerous."

Based on witnesses presented by the defense, Guerra's troubles started in his childhood, having grown up in a violent household.

"It was very messy. They weren't stable," said Veronica Wood, a former neighbor who knew him when he was middle school-aged. "There was a lot of domestic abuse in the home toward the mother and the boys."

Wood said she often witnessed Guerra and his siblings going days without food or clean clothes and being subjected to hurtful comments on a regular basis.

"(His mother) loved her animals more than she loved her kids," said Wood, who said she tried to be a positive person in Guerra's and his siblings' lives.

Rita Girdy told jurors she got to know Guerra during one of the times Child Protective Services removed him from his mother's home.

Girdy, a foster grandmother to the defendant, described Guerra as a polite, helpful boy who liked to cook and garden.

"He was a good kid," said Girdy. "I never, never, never felt he would be in a place like this."

Caltzontzin's family also testified in the hearing.

"He didn't deserve for this young man to do that to him. It was cold-blooded. I hope he rots in prison," said his mother, Guadalupe Hernandez, 43. "It left a big hole in my heart, and I gotta live like that."

She added, "We're glad justice was served."

Tania Alvarado, Caltzontzin's girlfriend of four years, said he took care of her and their 2-year-old son.

"He was a good boyfriend. He always looked out for me. If I had a problem, he'd be there for me," said Alvarado, 21. "All we have are pictures and videos, but nothing that will bring him back."

She said she was sad that their son would grow up without a father.

Neither Guerra nor his attorney were available for comment.



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