Jury convicts Parrilla on most charges in parking lot shooting
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: February 01, 2013
A 2011 crime caught on a store security video camera resulted in a Santa Paula gang member being found guilty of assault with a firearm and causing great bodily injury with the shooting of a tagger vandalizing a parked truck in the other’s territory.
On Tuesday a jury convicted Christian Parrilla, 23, of chasing and then firing on Justin Steele, 24, also of Santa Paula, wounding him in the foot and calf. The incident occurred shortly before 5 a.m. July 24, 2011 in the parking lot of a market at Ojai and East Ventura streets near the Knights of Columbus Hall.
The jury reportedly hung 9-3 on an attempted murder charge, and it is expected a decision will be made next week on whether or not to retry Parrilla on the charge. As it is, Parrilla faces a sentence of 24 years in a state prison; the jury also found he used a firearm during the crime and committed the crime for the benefit of a Santa Paula street gang.
After Parrilla shot Steele, Santa Paula Police officers were able to identify him from the video captured from a security camera at a nearby market. Police who had previous contacts with Parrilla knew places he frequented; on August 10, 2011 Parrilla was arrested without incident at a park he was known to visit.
When the home of Parrilla’s parents was searched, officers found a newspaper clipping about the shooting.
Steele was tagging a box truck parked at the Mi Pueblito Meat Market that had been vandalized numerous times before. Steele was tagging over the mark of Parrilla’s gang when Parrilla showed up, chased Steele across the parking lot and shot him. After the shooting Parrilla fled and the wounded Steele went to the Knights of Columbus Hall, where he banged on the door for help until those inside called 9-1-1.
Several Santa Paula Police officers testified at the trial.
If a retrial is ordered on the attempted murder charge, Parrilla would face a potential life sentence instead of the maximum 24-year sentence he could receive for those crimes he was convicted of.