Jurors deliberated for less than three hours Monday before finding Isreal Soria Jr. guilty of charges that could put him in prison for life.
Soria, a 22-year-old Crescent City resident, was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree robbery, attempted first-degree burglary and shooting into an inhabited dwelling. On June 24, 2021, Soria shot and seriously injured McKinleyville resident Dylan Eubanks, who was in his own kitchen.
The jury also found true several special allegations, including personal use of a firearm when committing the attempted murder and attempted robbery. That allegation alone carries a penalty of 25 years to life.
Soria was acquitted of conspiracy to commit murder.
Soria, who during the trial was always dressed in a dark suit and a white or pastel shirt, showed up for the verdict Monday wearing a sweatshirt, camo pants and athletic shoes. When the court clerk read the “not guilty” verdict on the conspiracy charge, he shed some tears. He sat there stoically as she read the “guilty” verdicts on the remaining counts.
Judge Christopher Wilson ordered Soria taken into custody and held without bail. His attorney, Christina DiEdoardo, had argued he had been out of custody on bail for some time and there had been no problem.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 15.
Soria told the officer who arrested him that the Norteño gang hired him to kill Eubanks for stealing from the gang. Soria also was planning to take back the stolen property. The type of property was never specified, but officers found 200 pounds of marijuana in four 50-pound bricks in Eubanks’s garage.
The jury got the case about 11 a.m. Monday after hearing the final prosecution argument from Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm, who said all jurors needed is some common sense to convict Soria of all charges.
Timm said Soria told the truth once: when he confessed to the arresting officer. When Soria took the witness stand during the trial, he offered not only “a brand-new defense heard for the first time,” but a story also contradicted by a massive amount of incriminating evidence.
When testifying, Soria said he fired 11 rounds into Eubanks’s kitchen because Eubanks was holding an assault rifle and cocking it back. At the time Soria was in Eubanks’s back yard, peering through a gap in the draperies. It was about 11 p.m. and pitch-dark.
Soria was carrying two fully loaded, unregistered pistols. He was dressed in red, the Norteño color of choice, and his left cheek was covered by a Norteño tattoo. While testifying he admitted being at Eubanks’s house. But he was on his own, to rob Eubanks of drugs and guns.
“They want you to believe this is dope ripoff,” Timm told the jury. “This wasn’t a dope ripoff. This was a murder ripoff.”
Timm said there was plenty of evidence to prove the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. “Someone” drove Soria from Del Norte County to Humboldt County. One of the guns was given to Soria by “someone” in Humboldt County. “Someone” showed Soria a photo of Eubanks’s house. “Someone” was a getaway driver, who apparently fled when law enforcement arrived one minute after shots were fired.
The prosecution maintains Eubanks had no assault rifle but was talking on his cellphone when shot. Examining the path of the bullet, it’s “physically impossible” Eubanks was shot while his arm was down, holding a rifle.
Eubanks did not testify. But he told an ambulance crew he was shot while talking on his phone, and he had no idea where the bullet came from.
“He didn’t even see the guy who shot him, Timm said.
Although the prosecution says Eubanks was unarmed, Timm said it wouldn’t have mattered if he was.
“One person has the right to self-defense,” Timm said, “and it’s not Mr. Soria.”
Soria gave up his right to self-defense, the prosecutor said, the second he set foot on Eubanks’s property.
“He forfeited his right to self-defense. He forfeited it.”
Timm called the shooting “ a gang hit” meant to raise Soria’s status in the Norteños and raise the gang’s status in the community. Also it was meant as a warning: Don’t mess with Norteños.
After the shooting, Eubanks ran outside and screamed for help, even banging on one terrified neighbor’s door.
“He sounds like somebody who got shot. Somebody who doesn’t want to get shot again. Somebody who doesn’t want to bleed out and die.”
Instead of fleeing, Soria followed Eubanks to finish the job, Timm argued. As to Soria’s claim that he was high on a huge amount of drugs and alcohol, “he would have been comatose in a hospital” if he had ingested what he claimed.
Instead, Soria was jumping fences, jumping off the roof a shed, running.
“We have an Olympian out there,” Timm said.
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