A Watsonville gang member will spend the rest of his life in prison for a gang-related stabbing in Santa Cruz nearly two years ago, the District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
A jury found Raul Perez Rodriguez, 38, guilty of attempted murder and several special allegations on April 29. Rodriguez will not be eligible for parole for 19 years, according to the D.A.'s Office.
The shooting happened October 23, 2011, on Bixby Street in Santa Cruz. Rodriguez walked up to a parked car, shouted a gang slogan and stabbed the driver four times in the chest. The driver, who had no gang affiliations, was completely unprepared for the attack. He struggled with the defendant for control of the knife and badly slashed his hand in the process, according to the D.A.'s Office.
Fearing that he would be killed, the victim hit the gas on his parked car, sending it across the street where he crashed into a building. The defendant followed the victim’s car across the street, apparently intending to continue the attack, according to the D.A.'s Office.
Rodriguez fled when neighbors came out of their homes. He was later identified from fingerprints left at the scene. He went into hiding after the attack, but was tracked down to a motel in Gilroy, according to the D.A.'s Office.
Rodriguez addressed the court at sentencing, saying the crime was “unfortunate” and claiming he committed the attack in a drunken stupor, the D.A.'s Office reported.
Rodriguez has a long list of priors, including a 1995 conviction for carjacking, another 1995 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon and a 2006 conviction for a gang-related robbery.