A 2006 gang-related killing with up to seven assailants returned only two convictions this week with sentences totaling 124 months.
Although Troutdale resident Hildeberto Marin-Jimenez, 29, pleaded no contest to murder, he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 100 months in prison. An accomplice, Gresham resident Sinforoso Marcelo-Santos, 23, pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness and sentenced to 24 months.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Kellie Johnson said Marin-Jimenez's reduced charge resulted from the lack of a confirmed weapon, positive identification of the killer and immediate help at the scene of the killing.
The incident unfolded after a wedding party in a Portland nightclub attended by the victim, Augustin Joaquin-Francisco, and the assailants. An argument and shoving match involving Joaquin-Francisco, Marin-Jimenez and Marcelo-Santos broke out in front of the establishment and was broken up by the owner.
Joaquin-Francisco was asleep in the back of a car driven by his brother when an SUV driven by Marcelo-Santos blocked the car's path near the intersection of 190th Avenue and Yamhill Street in Gresham.
A group of people got out of the SUV and assaulted Joaquin-Francisco's brother and nephew, who was riding in the passenger seat. Meanwhile, a group of up to three people somehow evicted Joaquin-Francisco from the back seat. Joaquin-Francisco's nephew later said he saw a shiny object amongst the group, but could not be sure what it was or who held it. Marcelo-Santos remained in the SUV.
Not realizing the extent of Joaquin-Francisco's injury, his brother and nephew took him home and laid him on the couch. The next morning, they noticed he was having trouble breathing and called an ambulance.
'No one knew until he got to the hospital that he was stabbed,' Johnson said. 'Ultimately, what killed him was the brain swelling.'
A medical examiner determined that the head wound appeared to be caused by a screwdriver, and a photo was recovered from Marin-Jimenez's home that showed him in a menacing pose with a screwdriver. But the prosecution could not prove who killed Joaquin-Francisco, or the precise weapon.
'We have to be aware that gangs are not using what we think are standard weapons,' Johnson said. 'Weapons of choice are shanks, makeshift weapons.'
Johnson said that prosecuting the case was 'frustrating.'
'My heart goes out to this family,' Johnson said. 'It was the nature of the attack that made it a very difficult case.'