Man sentenced to 10 years in shooting spurred by drug debt

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: June 22, 2011, 5:34 PM

 

A man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for shooting an acquaintance five times during a confrontation at a Vancouver apartment complex over a drug debt.

The victim, shot in the mouth, torso and groin, survived after extensive surgery and physical therapy, said Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu.

Initially charged with attempted murder and facing 20 years in prison, Alberto Zeferino-Sanchez, 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. The charge came with a deadly weapon enhancement.

Zeferino-Sanchez admitted to Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard that he went to the apartment at 2000 E. Mill Plain Blvd. the night of April 1, 2010, with a 9-mm handgun.

When Jose Luis Rodriguez-Marquez answered the door, Zeferino-Sanchez shot him, according to court documents. Rodriguez-Marquez’s girlfriend, who was in the bedroom, told investigators that she heard gunshots and her boyfriend screaming. Rodriquez-Marquez then returned to the bedroom, his face bleeding, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, Zeferino-Sanchez fled the country. He was arrested in November when he tried to return to the United States, Vu said.

Vu said Rodriguez-Marquez was rushed to Southwest Washington Medical Center and received treatment for several weeks.

The deputy prosecutor said he was seeking $42,000 in restitution to cover the victim’s hospital bills.

The judge will decide restitution at a later date, once paperwork has been finalized.

Asked by Woolard for a motive, Vu said there were differing stories on what prompted the shooting. The victim told investigators that Zeferino-Sanchez was upset because Rodriguez-Marquez hadn’t turned over the title of a vehicle that he sold to Zeferino-Sanchez. Later, however, investigators learned that Zeferino-Sanchez admitted to his girlfriend that he shot the victim to settle a marijuana debt, Vu said.

Defense attorney Charles Buckley told the judge that his client has no criminal history; he got caught up in the drug lifestyle and “was in over his head,” Buckley said.

“He is where he is because of a mistake of companionship,” Buckley said.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; Twitter: Col_Courts; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.