On Thursday, January 24, a 25-year-old Redwood City man was convicted of shooting a friend in the face; he now faces 38 years to life in prison, according to an article at Mercury News. The victim was left without a sense of smell or taste. The shooting allegedly occurred after a night of drinking.
Okalani Fahina Latu was given the hefty sentence by San Mateo County Judge Clifford Cretan, largely due to being convicted of felony mayhem with a gun, according to chief deputy district attorney Karen Guidotti. Guidotti said that the judge doled out 25 years to life for that charge alone.
In February of last year, Latu and two friends went out bar hopping; Latu was allegedly toting a .25-caliber pistol at the time. It was determined that Latu was in violation of his probation stemming from a 2010 assault. Early in the morning hours after all of the bars had closed, Latu and his two friends drove to Redwood City, where Latu reportedly ordered one of his friends to get out of the vehicle in the area of San Carlos Avenue. The friend initially refused, but then got out of the car. News reports state that Latu then walked up to the victim and shot him in the face with the pistol, although the reasons for his doing so remain unclear.
The victim, whose name was not released, then ran screaming from house to house; in the meantime, Latu and his friends allegedly fled the scene in the vehicle. Doctors worked to save the victim’s life after sheriff’s deputies who arrived at the scene rushed him to the hospital.
Prosecutors say that the bullet remains lodged in the victim’s head, and that he has lost his sense of taste and smell; he also lost partial use of his jaw, and is unable to hear in one ear. Authorities claim that the 2010 assault Latu is accused of committing was also unprovoked.
Defense attorney Randy Hey said that the shooting was an accident according to Latu, however the judge stated that he had “zero sympathy” for the defendant, and that he blatantly violated his probation terms in drinking alcohol and acquiring a .25-caliber pistol illegally.
Redwood City criminal defense attorneys realize that people often do things they would not ordinarily do when under the influence of alcohol or drugs; unfortunately, this young man may spend the majority of his life behind bars.
If you have been charged with a crime no matter how minor or serious it may seem, contact an experienced Redwood City criminal defense lawyer immediately to avoid harsh criminal penalties.