Best Defender Bytes:

June 20, 2013


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 8:42 pm

SANTA ANA - A woman was sentenced today to 40 years to life in state prison for the murder of her husband and attempted murder of her 16 and 9-year-old sons in the family’s Tustin Ranch home. Annamaria Magno Gana, 43, unincorporated Tustin, was found guilty by a jury April 3, 2013, of one felony count each of special circumstances murder by lying in wait, two felony counts of attempted murder, and sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on May 8, 2011, Gana armed herself with a firearm and shot a bullet into the ceiling of a bedroom in her Tustin Ranch home. When the defendant’s 72-year-old husband Antonio Potenciano Gana and their 16-year-old son John Doe #1 ran into the bedroom in response to the gunshot, Gana turned the firearm toward her husband, said, “Now,” and murdered him by shooting him in the chest.

The defendant intended to also murder her two sons. She shot at John Doe #1 as he turned and attempted to escape from the bedroom. The victim was shot in the arm but was able to get out of the home and call 911 on his cell phone. The defendant’s other son, 9-year-old John Doe #2, witnessed his mother holding the firearm and was able to wrestle it away from her and take it outside.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated this case, arrived at the scene and arrested Gana. She was transported to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries sustained while shooting the firearm.

The defendant’s sons were placed in the care of a family member.

Evidence was presented by the People during the jury trial that Gana, who was diagnosed with cancer prior to the murder, selfishly decided to murder her family because she believed that that they couldn’t live without her if she died and that if she was going to die, then they should all “go together.”

Several of the victim’s family members presented written victim impact statements to the court for the sentencing today. Those statements said, in part:

The victim’s son, John Doe #1, gave a tearful victim impact statement and told his mother that he loved her. He also said that he misses his father and wishes that his mother could be there to see his younger brother grow up.

“Losing a father is inevitable, but losing him in this manner is unbearable.” Carmelia Gana, daughter of the victim.

“My brothers not only lost their father, they lost everything they had. A home, a family, and the life they once had. From here we can all try to start to move on with hope for forgiveness, peace, and love in our hearts.” Jose Gana, son of the victim.

“I asked [Antonio] to plan a trip back to Manila in December for hunting season. I never realized that we would never be going hunting together again. . He loved [Annamaria] and gave up a comfortable life for her and his boys to start over in the US, but she never appreciated this. She just shot him like a dog on the street.” Jose Benedicto, son-in-law of the victim.

“This loss has made me worry for my two half-brothers, who have to grow up without both their father and mother. Questions flood my mind, like how will they cope emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially? Who will guide them? How will they survive? How will they cope with the trauma? What will become of their lives? “ Maria Gana, daughter of the victim.

“He would never forget birthdays, Valentine’s Day, even Mother’s Day. My dad was truly a man with a big heart.” Rosette Benedicto, daughter of the victim.

“He gave unconditionally. I am 100 percent sure he had many more years to live, and much more love to share.” Geoffrey Balagas, son-in-law of the victim.

“I felt safe around him. I knew that he would protect me. My friends knew this too, and he was a father-figure to many of them. He was a shoulder for them to cry on, and he willingly provided support. Plainly, he was just someone you could count on to be there for you, no matter what.” Maria Balagtas, daughter of the victim.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 11CF1199 / June 19, 2013

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