Man sentenced for Fargo theater shootingWith both his ex-girlfriend and the man he shot seven times sitting in the courtroom behind him, Felipe Estrada stood silent and emotionless as he was sentenced to 18 years in prison Monday for his role in last summer’s West Acres Cinema shooting.
By: By Sam Benshoof, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — With both his ex-girlfriend and the man he shot seven times sitting in the courtroom behind him, Felipe Estrada stood silent and emotionless as he was sentenced to 18 years in prison Monday for his role in last summer’s West Acres Cinema shooting.
In March, Estrada, 45, of Dilworth, was convicted by a Cass County jury of four felonies in the shooting, but he was spared an attempted murder conviction that could have put him in prison for life.
Estrada fired seven shots into Juan Carlos Garza, the ex-husband of Estrada’s ex-girlfriend, but he claimed during the trial that he was acting in self-defense.
At Monday’s hearing in Cass County District Court, Judge Wade Webb said while there was a provocation that led to the shooting, but it was unclear whether it was Estrada or Garza who started it.
However, Webb said, even if Estrada had been provoked by Garza, it would only have been to the extent of a verbal or a physical altercation.
“It is the defendant who brought a semiautomatic weapon to a fist fight,” Webb said. “It was utterly unreasonable to bring a gun to a fist fight.”
Estrada’s attack on Garza, Webb said, was a “truly violent” aggravated assault.
“This court is not aware of a more violent or heinous aggravated assault in the last decade in this jurisdiction,” he said.
Because of the severity of the attack, Webb sentenced Estrada to the maximum 10-year sentence for the aggravated assault charge on Garza, and four years for the aggravated assault charge on Charles Roskom, who Estrada struck in the skull with the butt of his handgun.
Estrada was sentenced to two years each for the two reckless endangerment charges, one of which was linked to a shot fired into the West Acres theater as Sunday matinees were showing.
Defense attorney Steven Mottinger had asked Webb for a more lenient sentence, arguing that Estrada’s pre-sentencing investigation showed a low risk for re-offending in the future.
Mottinger also said that Estrada, who is not a U.S. citizen, is likely to face immigration consequences as a result of the sentence.
“In all likelihood, he could be deported back to Mexico,” Mottinger said.
Estrada was given credit for 371 days served in jail and will not have to pay any fees or restitution.
Sam Benshoof is a reporter
at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.