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Murder charge filed five months after shootout at Santa Cruz County marijuana grow-op


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Eli Gutierrez
SANTA CRUZ — One of two men initially accused of killing a robber at a Watsonville pot grow-op in June was charged with murder this week in the city’s first homicide this year.
Eli Gutierrez, 26, was charged Wednesday — five months after 32-year-old Dominic Quintana was shot dead — with murder with a firearm and possession of an illegal assault weapon, according to court documents.
Shell casings from multiple weapons littered the grow-op, a home on the 100 block of Lawrence Avenue, after a failed robbery triggered gunfire shortly before 8 p.m. June 30. Gutierrez fired an AR-15 assault weapon, according to court documents.
Authorities initially arrested another man, Elias Gutierrez, who was at the scene but did not face charges in connection with the shooting.
Assistant District Attorney Celia Rowland, when asked in July whether murder charges would be filed, said it was being discussed but declined to elaborate on a pending investigation.
Two suspected robbers
Two men — Quintana and Louis Ledesma, 50, of Watsonville — were suspected of stealing a lot of cash and marijuana from the pot shop, authorities have said.
“They went out running,” police spokeswoman Michelle Pulido has said.
Quintana was struck multiple times. He died in the driveway about 1 mile south of Watsonville Municipal Airport, police have said.
Ledesma faces three charges of first-degree residential robbery, attempted murder of a police officer, first-degree burglary and assault with a firearm. He is accused of using a firearm and promoting a criminal street gang, according to court documents. Ledesma pleaded not guilty to the six charges in July.
Ledesma pointed a gun at pursuing officers, who were close enough to knock the firearm from his hands before he ran from the home, police have said. A police dog and Taser stopped the escape less than 1,000 feet west of the crime scene.
The California Department of Justice provided a crime lab to process the large crime scene, Pulido has said.
Ledesma was convicted of burglary in Santa Cruz County in November 1989 and October 1994, according to court documents.
Deputy Public Defender Stephen Prekoski was appointed to represent Ledesma.
Ledesma has been held at Santa Cruz County Jail since he was booked July 1. Bail was $1 million.
Superior Court Judge John Salazar set bail at $1.5 million Wednesday forGutierrez. Superior court records list two previous traffic cases for Gutierrez but no criminal cases.
No court dates were listed for Gutierrez.
A procedural hearing for Ledesma slated for 9 a.m. Feb. 6 is expected to last at least two days, according to court documents.
Previous encounters
The Sentinel previously reported that the shooting happened a few years since Lawrence Avenue and South Green Valley Road had a series of violent crimes that appeared in headlines. On Dec. 23, 2015, 15-year-old Aaron Lopez of Watsonville was shot several times on the sidewalk and died while walking home near Magnolia Drive and Lawrence Avenue. Police said the attack was gang motivated.
On July 7, 2011, a seven-hour standoff with police ended in an apparent murder-suicide of a father and son, Stephen Hull, 62, and Aaron Hull, 36, who died by gunfire in the 100 block of Lawrence Ave, police told the Sentinel.
In June 2011, two suspected gang members attacked and brandished a gun at a man who sustained minor injuries on Lawrence Avenue, the Sentinel reported.
In October 2009, police said a registered sex offender was suspected of groping girls on Lawrence Avenue and Green Valley Road.
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I read what you posted about 4 different times now, and I'm still confused as to what's going on.  Either this is 3 different articles posted here, or whoever wrote it needs to go back to high school English and learn how to tie paragraphs together to form a cohesive story.  

I think the guy Gutierrez was someone working at the grow op, or lived there, or had some other reason to be there.  2 people attempted to rob the place, one died of gunshot wounds.  Gutierrez used an AR-15 against the two robbers and seems to have been successful in killing one of them.  I can't tell if he's getting charged with murder for the reason of his AR-15 wasn't registered, making him a criminal or if there is anything else involved in determining that he's being charged with murder for being involved in the robbery.


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