PLACERVILLE, Calif — On Monday, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office announced that one of the suspects involved in the killing of El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Ishmael was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
On April 13, 2022, the jury found 22-year-old Juan Carlos Vasquez-Orozco guilty of murder in the second degree and assault with a firearm.
Prosecutors say these crimes happened on October 23, 2019, when Ishmael and three other deputies responded to a Somerset home after the property owner reported an alleged theft from a marijuana garden.
However, the truth of the matter was that Christopher Ross, the property owner, "had entered into an agreement allowing other people to grow marijuana on his property in exchange for money and a used Jeep," according to the district attorney's office.
As the deputies arrived on the scene, Ramiro Morales, who prosecutors say was living in the marijuana grow armed with a firearm, told Vasquez Orozco that men were in the garden to steal marijuana.
Shortly after their arrival on the scene, prosecutors say Vasquez Orozco opened fire on the deputies and a prolonged gun battle ensued.
Prosecutors say Vasquez Orozco shot Ishmael four times, eventually killing him. Vasquez Orozcoalso shot at Deputy Josh Tasabia once, causing a permanent injury, and shot at but missed Deputies Shawn Taroli and Brian Shelton. During the prolonged gun battle, Vasquez Orozco was also wounded after he was hit twice in the hip.
On April 13, 2022, Morales was convicted on charges of being an accessory after the fact and Ross, the property owner, was convicted of felony voluntary manslaughter and possession of marijuana for sale.
On Friday, officials said Vasquez Orozco appeared in court for his sentencing where he faced "a possible sentence of 40 years to life for the murder of Brian Ishmael and an additional 6 years for shooting Josh Tasabia and shooting at Shawn Taroli and Brian Shelton."
After Ishmael's family addressed the court, describing the terrible loss that they are forced to live with each day, prosecutors gave Vasquez Orozco the chance to address the court and apologize to Ishmael's family and friends. However, Vasquez Orozco elected to remain silent.
Instead of following the prosecutors' proposed sentencing, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Sharon Lueras struck all of the gun enhancements and imposed a term of 15 years to life on Vasquez Orozco for the murder of Brian Ishmael.
Judge Lueras justified her leniency, saying that "Vasquez Orozco did not pose a danger to the public, that the crime was situational, that the crimes were merely the result of misinformation and mostly the fault of the property owner."
The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office says the sentence was "shockingly shorter than the one proposed by prosecutors."
“I am very disappointed by the judge’s decision,” said District Attorney Vern Pierson.