Alfredo Gabriel Villegas, a 32-year-old gang member, will get to spend the next 22 years in prison after he stabbed and paralyzed a man who tried to stop Villegas and his pals from tagging a building in Anaheim, back on July 26, 2015.
Villegas pleaded guilty on June 11 to attempted murder, mayhem, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and participating in a street gang, all felonies. He also admitted sentencing enhancements for gang activity and causing great bodily injury that leads to paralysis.
The stabbing attack happened at the 100 block of South Stinson Street, near Lincoln Ave. The victim, then 51-year-old James Blue, was a transient who made once-a-week rounds delivering meals to the homeless as a volunteer for the Focus North America Orange County Center. Blue parked his 1981 Chevrolet pick-up truck behind a bar at the 2600 block of West Lincoln Avenue at about 8 p.m. Blue was sorting scrap metal for his recycling business, when he saw four young men begin to tag several businesses and they also sprayed graffiti on the pavement next to his truck.
Blue asked the men to stop what they were doing and they responded with a vicious attack. One of the taggers threw a paint can at Blue’s head while the rest of them beat him up. Finally, Villegas stabbed him with a sharp object, which severed Blue’s ‘spinal cord.
An unidentified man likely saved Blue when he retrieved a handgun and shot four to five rounds into the air to stop the attack. Blue knew the man but did not reveal his identity for obvious reasons.
The sentence could have been even tougher on Villegas however a sentencing enhancement for attempted premeditated murder and a count of aggravated mayhem were dismissed as part of a plea bargain he accepted. He also may have a faced a potential life sentence with those charges and sentencing enhancement.
Two other men who also attacked Blue previously pleaded guilty.
Andrew Steven Morales, 30, pleaded guilty Feb. 22 of last year to single felony counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, participating in gang activity and vandalism. He was sentenced to time already served in jail and was released.
Co-defendant Jacob Antonio Weis, 28, who was arrested June 2, 2016, was sentenced last year to 13 years in prison, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to participating in gang activity and assault with a deadly weapon.
Both men were also facing charges of attempted murder with a sentencing enhancement of attempted premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence. But these charges were dismissed along with charges of aggravated mayhem after they also accepted a plea deal.
A final co-defendant, Fernando Zaraterojo, 31, is still awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and participating in gang activity, all felonies, and faces sentencing enhancements for attempted premeditated murder and gang activity.
These men were all grown men, not kids, when they were tagging buildings and then attacked Blue and destroyed the quality of his life by putting him in a wheelchair.