Crime

Teen wanted to be tried in Juvenile Court for killing unarmed man. Judge said no

Juvenile Court Judge Gregory Fain ruled on Tuesday, Aug. 21, that Silbiano Madrigal showed “criminal sophistication” when he shot 26-year-old Michael Daniels in the head outside Zack’s Market at Martin Luther King Boulevard and California Avenue.
Juvenile Court Judge Gregory Fain ruled on Tuesday, Aug. 21, that Silbiano Madrigal showed “criminal sophistication” when he shot 26-year-old Michael Daniels in the head outside Zack’s Market at Martin Luther King Boulevard and California Avenue. PABLO LOPEZ

A Fresno County Juvenile Court judge ruled Tuesday that a teen who fatally shot an unarmed man outside a southwest Fresno market last year will be tried as an adult on a murder charge.

Judge Gregory Fain said Silbiano Madrigal showed “criminal sophistication” when he shot 26-year-old Michael Daniels in the head outside Zack’s Market at Martin Luther King Boulevard and California Avenue on Feb. 9, 2017. Daniels died 10 days later.

Fain said he was disturbed by Madrigal’s comments after Daniels was shot. “I got him. I got him,” Madrigal said, according to the judge.

Madrigal’s attorney, Gerald Schwab Jr., said he was disappointed in the ruling because Madrigal feared for his life when he shot Daniels.

The hearing was held in Juvenile Court because Madrigal was 17 years old when he shot Daniels. Prosecutor Nathan Lambert filed a petition to transfer Madrigal to adult court, where he will face stiffer punishment if convicted.

The hearing in Fain’s courtroom did not dig into whether Madrigal was guilty or innocent of the killing. The sole issue was whether he could be rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system by age 23 years old, when he would have to be released if convicted as a minor.

Testimony revealed that Madrigal is housed in the maximum security J Pod at the Juvenile Justice Campus south of Fresno. He joined the West Fresno Norte street gang at age 12, but later dropped out of the gang.

Before the killing, he was a student at the W.E.B DuBois charter school, where he was a special education student with an individual education plan, commonly referred to as an IEP.

In his ruling, Fain noted that Madrigal grew up without parental support because he never had a father and his mother is frequently in trouble with the law.

In November 2013, Madrigal took a loaded, sawed-off shotgun to Edison Computech and showed it to 30 to 40 people before police arrested him. “He was drunk and belligerent,” the judge said.

While on juvenile probation, he was arrested again for having ammunition in his pocket. Fain said Madrigal told police that bullets were for a gun he had at his house. Because he was on probation, Fain said, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

In his argument, Lambert noted that Madrigal also got in trouble at juvenile hall. In January this year, Madrigal was caught with marijuana in his cell. A few months later, he got into a fistfight with another juvenile inmate.

But three officers who interact frequently with Madrigal told Fain that he is respectful to staff, doesn’t cause trouble and has the highest rating because of good behavior. They said Madrigal, once confronted, quickly turned over the marijuana to staff. They also told the judge the other inmate started the fight.

The killing of Daniels was a major issue during the hearing.

Fresno police Detective Luis Carrillo testified that Daniels got into a fistfight with Madrigal’s friend, Tayviyon Smith, 18, at the Westside Market on Elm Avenue in southwest Fresno. After the fight, Smith called his father, Isaac Smith.

Isaac Smith, his son and Madrgal then drove around, looking for Daniels. They found him at Zack’s Market.

Carrillo said a surveillance camera captured Isaac Smith punching Daniels. Tayviyon Smith then jumped into the fight. Madrigal got out of the car, but did not fight Daniels.

The judge said that because Daniels fought back, Isaac Smith, his son and Madrigal got back into the car. When Daniels confronted Isaac Smith at the driver’s side window, Madrigal pulled out a gun and shot the victim.

Fain said Madrigal had no reason to shoot Daniels since Daniels never assaulted him. Though Daniels approached the car in an angry manner, he was unarmed, the judge said. In addition, Isaac Smith was about to drive away so Madrigal was in a relatively safe place, Fain said.

Afterward, Madrigal got rid of the gun, the judge said. The gun was never found, Carrillo said.

In his ruling, Fain ordered Madrigal to be transferred to the Fresno County Jail. He will be arraigned in Fresno Superior Court on Aug. 23.

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