Teen gets 15-year sentence for murder

June 20, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — A Burlington teen was sentenced to 15 years Tuesday for shooting and killing a 16-year-old in 2017.

Cristian Alexander Quijas, 16, will serve his time in juvenile detention until he turns 21, after which he will complete his sentence in prison.

He will also serve three years of community custody upon release and was ordered to pay $5,750 in restitution.

The morning sentencing was continued from Monday after Skagit County Superior Court Judge David Svaren said he needed more time to make a decision.

“This was a particularly brutal murder that terminated the life of Angel Estrada,” Svaren said in court Tuesday. “There was an extremely large amount of material to consider.”

Quijas pleaded guilty as an adult to second-degree murder in May to the March 2017 shooting death of Estrada. Estrada was shot five times, with three shots hitting him in the back.

Because Quijas was 15 at the time of the shooting, a judge had to rule he could be charged as an adult — a decision that was made in October.

The prosecution asserted Quijas shot Estrada because Estrada, a member of a rival gang, was dating Quijas’ sister.

“This is not a self-defense case, this is an execution,” Skagit County deputy prosecutor Trisha Johnson said Monday. “We are extremely lucky no one else was shot.”

On Monday, Johnson asked Svaren to impose a 15-year sentence, stating, “The defendant doesn’t consider himself a juvenile. The defendant has never shown any remorse for what he has done.”

Johnson said the recommendation did not include additional time for a firearm enhancement and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Quijas’ public defender, Jeri Chavez, asked Monday for a six-year sentence, noting Quijas’ age and potential for rehabilitation.

In his address to the court Tuesday, Svaren said defense expert Ronald Roesch also thinks Quijas is a candidate for rehabilitation.

According to Svaren, Roesch said Quijas is likely to outgrow his gang affiliation and only poses a moderate risk to society.

However, Svaren said Quijas has repeatedly shown pride in killing Estrada and is hardened beyond his years as a result of his gang involvement.

“There was no particular reason to kill Estrada other than him being in a rival gang and dating his sister,” Svaren said Tuesday.

On Monday, Estrada’s aunt, Yuriria Estrada-Rodriguez, said her family has not been the same since her nephew was killed.

“My sister cries every day for him,” she said. “He’s one of a kind. And him not being here has caused the family to break down. I wish this was all a dream, but it’s not.”

Quijas apologized directly to Angel Estrada’s mother on Monday for taking her son’s life.

“Every day I go to sleep, I think about everything,” Quijas said.

A co-defendant in the case, Daniel Gracida, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced in October to four years in detention.

Quijas is the third 15-year-old to be sentenced as an adult in Skagit County in the past decade, Chavez said.