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Trucker Not Charged in Shooting

Law: D.A.'s office finds insufficient evidence to prove he was not in fear for his life when he wounded two men who allegedly tried to steal his cargo.

June 12, 1998|GREG HERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The Orange County district attorney's office will not file charges against a truck driver who shot and wounded two men allegedly trying to burglarize his rig this week, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. John Anderson said the main issue was determining whether trucker Fernando Sancho's use of force was reasonable under the circumstances.

"A thorough evaluation of all witness statements and physical evidence revealed insufficient evidence to justify the filing of criminal charges," Anderson said. "There was insufficient evidence to disprove that Mr. Sancho was in reasonable fear of his life at the time of the shootings."

Scores of people have called prosecutors and the La Habra Police Department to express anger at the arrest of Sancho, who had been guarding a $250,000 load of frozen seafood.

"It's a very emotional case for the public," Anderson said. "It's not an opinion poll, but certainly in self-defense issues, a question of reasonableness has a community standard involved."

Sancho, a 39-year-old La Habra resident, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after he wounded two of three men who allegedly tried to steal his cargo early Monday.

Authorities said Sancho had parked his rig in a commercial strip and was sleeping inside, a rifle by his side, when he was awakened by the activity of three men. The trucker chased the men and began firing his rifle, police said.

After the shooting, investigators questioned whether Sancho had fired after a point at which the men ceased to be a threat to him or his cargo.

The three men, all from Los Angeles, have been charged with burglary. Two remain in the hospital recovering from wounds, and the third is scheduled to be arraigned today in Orange County Municipal Court in Fullerton.

Anderson said the burglary charges were filed against the trio because one of the men had managed to get into Sancho's truck before the shooting.

Sancho's attorney, Orlando Castano Jr., called his client with the news Thursday afternoon and said Sancho was grateful to everyone who supported him.

"He was relieved and thankful," Castano said. "The overwhelming public support was very comforting during this time."

Sancho, who was released on his own recognizance after being in custody for several hours, is scheduled to return to work today, his attorney said.

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