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Shooting suspects receive jail terms
SEATTLE - Almost a year to the day after a North Bend man was fatally shot in a car full of passengers that was on its way to a dance in downtown Seattle, his killer and accomplice were sentenced to spend much of their remaining years in prison, abiding by a mother's plea that the judge "give them as many years in jail as possible."
Emmanuel Grande-Martinez, 23, and Elmer Cisneros, 21, were ordered last Friday to spend the next 41 years and 9 months and 33 years, respectively, behind bars for the shooting deaths of Jorge Temblador-Torpete, an employee of the Arby's restaurant in North Bend, and John Diklich of Seattle. The murders were part of a weeklong series of shooting incidents involving members of a gang whose influence stretches from Seattle to Los Angeles to El Salvador.
Earlier this summer, Grande-Martinez, a native of El Salvador, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Temblador-Torpete, 22, and Diklich, 18. At the same time, he agreed to testify against Cisneros, who lived in Renton.
Because of that, Cisneros entered an Alford plea to one count of first-degree murder in the death of Diklich; one count of first-degree assault in the incident involving the car filled with passengers; and one count of second-degree assault for shooting at another Seattle man in the days leading up to the two murders.
In submitting an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty because there is likely enough evidence for a conviction, but does not accept responsibility for the crime.
The two men's sentencing hearings each occurred Friday morning before King County Superior Court Judge Michael Fox at the courthouse in Seattle, with Grande-Martinez going first. The courtroom was filled with friends and family of the two murder victims, and of the four other people who were in the car with Temblador-Torpete when he was shot and killed.
Of those four, Sylvia Ramirez was the lone person to escape without being shot. Her two daughters, both students at Mount Si, were in the car as well - one was shot in the head - as was another passenger, Julio Castaneda-Ramos of Fall City.
Before Grande-Martinez was sentenced, Ramirez, speaking softly and using an interpreter, asked Fox to sentence the two men to "as many years as they can get so they can understand what it means to lose a life."
She said she was happy that her daughters lived through the ordeal, but added, "I do feel the pain of the parents of that boy [Diklich] who died."
In describing what happened last year, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Baird said Grande-Martinez and Cisneros went on a "shooting spree" that began Sept. 18, with Cisneros orchestrating the events. It didn't end until they pulled up behind the car carrying Temblador-Torpete, Ramirez and the others near Fourth Avenue South and Airport Way in Seattle, where Grande-Martinez got out, walked to the driver's side of the car in front and indiscriminately shot at the people inside. They had been on their way to a dance at the Stadium Exhibition Center.
According to court documents, Grande-Martinez admitted to being the one who used a Glock 9 mm handgun to first murder Diklich on Sept. 23 in the White Center area of Seattle, then Temblador-Torpete the following day. But he also implicated Cisneros in the crimes, saying Cisneros was the first to draw his gun against Diklich, and Cisneros used the same Glock 9 mm handgun to shoot at Ramon Estrada-Ocegeda Sept. 18 in the South Park area of Seattle.
Grande-Martinez also said Cisneros was the one driving the car that stopped behind Temblador-Torpete, thinking the people in the car were gang members. He reportedly told Grande-Martinez, "Come on, come on. Let's do this." Grande-Martinez said he didn't think there were any women in the car when he shot at it. The sisters were 14 and 15 at the time of the shooting.
Both Grande-Martinez and Cisneros were members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha, which also has members in El Salvador. In the court documents, Grande-Martinez said he joined the gang when he went to Los Angeles in 1996. Last year he made his way to Seattle from California and met Cisneros, who was called "Grumpy" by fellow gang members, outside a mission. Both men have large tattoos with the letters "MS" on their forearms.
Cisneros offered to take Grande-Martinez to his apartment in Renton, and the first shooting occurred just days later.
Baird said without Grande-Martinez's testimony, it would have been difficult to prosecute Cisneros. He added that a "principle witness" in the case was murdered in Los Angeles before he was able to testify against Cisneros.
"Until Mr. Grande-Martinez gave us the statement, we didn't realize that Mr. Cisneros had also fired a weapon at the Diklich scene," he said. "I believe that Mr. Grande-Martinez's cooperation was instrumental in bringing Mr. Cisneros to justice."
"With his statement, we were able to start writing the last chapter of this ugly incident," Steve Diklich, the victim's father, said at Grande-Martinez's sentencing hearing.
"I only hope that in some small way you feel the fear that John felt that night when you pulled the gun on him," he added.
At Cisneros' hearing, Maureen Sharkey, Diklich's mother, said in a written statement that was read to the court, "I don't know why you could treat another human being with such coldness. ... It is because of you that I'll have to live the rest of my life with the pain of John's loss."
Each defendant addressed the court, with Grande-Martinez saying, "I am very sorry for what I did."
Cisneros, forced to pause because he was crying, said, "I ask the families to forgive me. I am not the best."
He later said, "I hurt my family. I hurt my daughters. I hurt innocent people."
After signing off on Grande-Martinez's sentence, Fox asked Baird and defense attorney Michael Danko to work on having Grande-Martinez serve his time in an out-of-state prison because of the possibility of retaliation by Cisneros or others.
You can reach Barry Rochford at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.