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Fresno man dodges life sentence as jury deadlocks on attempted murder charge

Joe Angel Delacruz in police booking photo. He avoided spending life in prison Tuesday after a jury deadlocked on an attempted murder charge against him.
Joe Angel Delacruz in police booking photo. He avoided spending life in prison Tuesday after a jury deadlocked on an attempted murder charge against him. Fresno Police Department

A Fresno man avoided spending life in prison Tuesday after a jury deadlocked on an attempted murder charge against him.

Joe Angel Delacruz, 27, was on trial for shooting Francis Howard on Sept. 12, 2017. Howard was shot twice, once in the thigh and once in the back, while standing outside his apartment on North Marks Avenue near Dakota Avenue.

Delacruz’s defense attorney Miles Harris said his client was just trying to defend himself from the knife-wielding Howard.

But prosecutor Andrew Janz said Delacruz was the aggressor who came looking for Howard’s younger brother that night and when he couldn’t find him, shot Howard instead.

Tuesday afternoon, the jury sent a message to Judge Alvin Harrell III saying they were deadlocked on the attempted murder charge. Harrell asked them individually if that was the case and they all agreed.

Harrell asked them how the votes split and the jury foreperson said eight to four in favor of guilty.

The jury convicted Delacruz of the two remaining charges, assault with a semi-automatic firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces a maximum sentence of 32 years.

Previously, Delacruz was looking at 29-years-to-life in prison if he was found guilty on all the charges.

Janz and Harris spoke with the several of the jurors after the trial. Janz said those who voted not guilty didn’t think Delacruz intended to kill Howard. Still, Janz said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“This is the outcome that I expected,” Janz said. “He is looking at 32 years max and that’s another dangerous criminal off our streets.”

Janz said he is dismissing the attempted murder charge, rather than seek a new trial.

Delacruz will be sentenced on Nov. 7.

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