A 20-year-old Ventura gang member has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting a Santa Paula man four times in the back of the head in an apparent drug-related crime.
The plea by Jerrimi Hampton came this week as a jury was being chosen in his murder trial.
Hampton was 17 years old on Jan. 27, 1993, when he shot 24-year-old Alfonso (Sammy) Garza Sanchez execution-style in an alley between Vince and Flint streets, authorities said. Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger A. Inman said the crime appeared to be drug-related, although the exact motive is unclear.
"The victim was selling cocaine in the area, and there's some indication he was cutting into the business of someone else," Inman said. "This may have been an attempt to dissuade him that went bad, but it's not 100% clear."
The prosecutor said Hampton had bought cocaine from Sanchez in the past.
Defense attorney James M. Farley declined to comment on the motive for the murder, but he said his client entered "the appropriate plea."
Although Hampton was a minor at the time of the murder, a judge cited the nature of the crime, Hampton's criminal record and previous failed attempts at rehabilitating him as reasons for sending the case to adult court.
Hampton could be sent to prison for 20 years to life when he is sentenced May 10.
The murder was part of an unusually violent week in Ventura. In an unrelated incident two days after Sanchez was killed, 17-year-old Ventura High football player Jesse Strobel was stabbed to death near the school, police said.
Two other serious stabbings occurred near Ventura Avenue the day before the Strobel killing.