A Ventura gang member was sentenced for a second time Monday to a lengthy prison term for conspiring to kill a teenager during a January 1996 drive-by shooting.
Danny Zizumbo, 24, was ordered to serve 28 years to life in prison for shooting Daniel Rodriguez, 16, in the leg and chest--10 years fewer than he was initially sentenced to before an earlier conviction was overturned on appeal.
Zizumbo's roller-coaster ride through the judicial system began in August 1996 when he was convicted of attempted murder and conspiracy for the east Ventura shooting. He received a 38-year sentence.
But Zizumbo's lawyer appealed. Ultimately, the California Supreme Court ruled that the case should be sent back to Superior Court in Ventura for a hearing to determine whether Zizumbo received a fair trial.
The hearing was conducted by Superior Court Judge Brian Back, who ruled last year that Zizumbo's trial attorney failed to present evidence that suggested another person was the shooter.
His ruling was based, in part, on a tape recording of a 911 call in which witnesses were heard identifying another person as the gunman.
Failure to present that evidence during the trial constituted ineffective assistance of counsel, Back ruled, and he granted Zizumbo a new trial that began early this year.
But on Jan. 29, a second Ventura County jury found the defendant guilty of the same charges after deliberating less than a day.
A known gang member, Zizumbo was described at both trials as a gunman who wielded a semiautomatic weapon from the back of a moving van and shot Rodriguez in the leg and chest as he walked through a neighborhood with friends.
In addition to attempted murder, Zizumbo was convicted in both trials of conspiracy to commit murder and deadly assault for shooting at the victim's two friends in front of a house.
On Monday, Back sentenced Zizumbo to 25 years to life for the conspiracy charge, plus three years for using a gun during the crime. The attempted murder charge, which carries less time than conspiracy to commit murder, was stayed.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Connors said Zizumbo will still serve a long sentence for his acts.
"Basically, he did everything in his power to murder that young boy," Connors said. "I think every day that he got was deserved and then some."
Because Zizumbo has already served three years, he will effectively be serving a 25-year-to-life sentence in state prison.
His lawyer has indicated that he plans to appeal.