Crime

Suspect in gang shooting that injured 10-year-old girl wants to take back guilty plea

Mario Garza
Mario Garza

Mario Garza in November admitted exchanging shots with a rival gang member last summer amid a crowd gathered to watch fireworks. Now, he wants to withdraw that plea in the shooting, which seriously injured a 10-year-old girl.

Both Garza and the other shooter, Ezri Garcia, pleaded guilty last fall to selected charges. Garcia was sentenced last week to 7 to 19 years in prison.

Garza. 20, was scheduled for sentencing Monday morning, but on Friday afternoon his attorney filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. On Monday, prosecutors filed a response opposing that motion.

Defense attorney Aaron Bazzoli declined to discuss the reasoning behind the motion except to say that after reviewing new information in the case, Garza decided to withdraw his plea and face trial. Third District Judge Davis VanderVelde set a new hearing for 4 p.m. March 13 to hear arguments from both sides before ruling on the request.

The mother of the 10-year-old victim had been scheduled to read a statement from her daughter at the sentencing hearing.

“She will always remember that day, both emotionally and physically,” the girl’s mother said during Garcia’s Feb. 21 sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors say Garza and Garcia, members of rival Nampa gangs, got in a dispute the night of June 29 in a Wal-Mart parking lot where families had gathered to watch fireworks from the God and Country Festival at the nearby Idaho Center. Both man reportedly shot at each other. They weren’t injured, but the girl, playing in the grass across the parking lot, was hit in the shoulder. That bullet remains in her body because of doctors’ concern that surgery could cause nerve damage.

Garza faces felony charges of riot and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, plus multiple charges of aggravated assault and using a firearm in commission of a crime.

Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447

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