Despite his full confession to being a gang hitman hired to kill a McKinleyville man, Isreal Soria Jr. testified yesterday that his only intention was to steal Dylan Eubanks’s guns and marijuana.
Under questioning by defense attorney Christina DiEdoardo and cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm, Soria offered a three-word explanation for why he confessed: “I was high.”
On June 24, 2021, Soria was packing a semi-automatic pistol with an extended, illegal magazine loaded with 32 bullets. He fired 11 rounds through a window of Eubanks’s home, striking Eubanks once in the arm. He then fled and was arrested in a neighbor’s back yard.
Soria told the arresting officer he had been hired by a Norteño gang member who believed Eubanks stole from him. He received a down payment of $7,500, with $25,000 due if he killed Eubanks.
That day, Soria says, he consumed a half-bottle of Johnny Walker whiskey, numerous shots of Don Julio 1942 tequila and some cognac. He also smoked concentrated marijuana and took his usual six to eight Xanax. This explains why he made a false confession, he says, but the truth is he only wanted “to rip (Eubanks) off.”
Eubanks had posted on Snapchat, bragging about his guns and money. More than 200 pounds of marijuana was found in his garage after the shooting.
In phone conversations while Soria was in jail, he told family members “I took those stupid pills and blacked out and did a bunch of stupid things.”
He also acknowledged to his mother that he had confessed his crimes.
“I ratted myself out,” he said. “I threw myself under the bus.”
But he also confirmed a scenario his mother presented. The gun belonged to Eubanks, not Soria. Soria wrestled the gun away and shot his way out.
“You needed to defend yourself,” the mother said.
“Yes, I did.”
Timm noted that despite Soria’s assertions about being high and blacking out, he now has a detailed memory of the shooting.
“You remember the incident of the shooting in precise detail. Is that true?”
“Yeah, it’s true.”
Soria now recalls that he went to Eubanks’s front door and looked through a window next to the door. He saw Eubanks approaching, empty-handed. He looked again and Eubanks was holding a 2-foot machete.
Soria said he panicked and ran to the back of the house, where he peered through a gap in the draperies and observed Eubanks and two assault rifles. Eubanks was holding one rifle, and when he raised it up Soria opened fire.
Soria was on the witness stand all day yesterday and is expected to continue testifying this morning.
Among the charges against him is premeditated attempted murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison. He also is charged with two counts of personal discharge of a firearm. This is California’s “Use a Gun and You’re Done” law, with a conviction adding up to 25 years to life to the sentence.
Soria posted bail and remains out of custody.