A Tulare County jury on Friday convicted two men of attempted murder in a gang-related shooting at Visalia Mall that injured two people two years ago.
The shooting inside the most popular mall in Tulare County shocked the community.
Gunman Adrian Esquer and accomplice Anthony Hanson, both 20, showed little emotion when the verdicts were read, but Hanson's family cried in the hallway afterward.
The verdicts "bring some sense of security and comfort back to the community," District Attorney Tim Ward said.
But Deputy Public Defender Roland Soltesz questioned whether Hanson received a fair judgment from the jury of six men and six women.
"He was as surprised as anyone else that this happened," Soltesz said.
A Sureño gang member and an innocent bystander inside a candy store were shot and wounded.
Esquer and Hanson were Norteño gang members, though Hanson has since dropped out of the gang, his lawyer said.
The two were in the mall on Jan. 28, 2012 when they had a chance encounter with four Sureño gang members outside the candy store.
Esquer testified in the three-week trial that he'd been shot in 2008 and carried a gun for protection.
When Esquer suddenly pulled out a gun, Hanson started running out of the mall to escape the violence, Soltesz said. The shooter caught up with Hanson, and they both left the mall together, he said.
The jury wrongly lumped Hanson together with Esquer, Soltesz said.
"Unfortunately, he was a Norteño at the time and Esquer was a Norteño, and the jury looked at that as one and the same," he said.
The jury deliberated for about two and half days before returning guilty verdicts on six counts of attempted murder -- four Sureños, a store clerk and a customer -- and two lesser charges.
Soltesz said he would seek a new trial on grounds that one juror wore earplugs for part of the trial until Judge Joseph Kalashian told him to remove them.
Esquer and Hanson are scheduled for sentencing March 6.
Esquer faces 67 years to life in prison on each of six counts and could be sentenced to 402 years to life in prison.
Hanson faces 57 years to life on each count and could face 342 years to life in prison.
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