Jose Espinoza Aguilar appears in court via video for arraignment Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jose Espinoza Aguilar appears in court via video for arraignment Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

‘Danger’ sentenced to 8 years for shooting random stranger in head

Jose Espinoza-Aguilar, 30, had been released from prison six months before he shot a man in Everett. His mother pleaded with the judge to show mercy.

EVERETT — An Arlington man nicknamed “Danger” who randomly shot a man in the back of the head at point blank range was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.

Jose Espinoza-Aguilar, 30, was charged last year with second-degree assault in connection with a July 2022 incident that left one man with severe vision and memory issues. The shooting occurred just six months after Espinoza-Aguilar was released from prison for a separate shooting case in 2017.

Espinoza-Aguilar pleaded guilty to the current charges in March.

On Monday, Espinoza-Aguilar entered the courtroom in handcuffs. Behind him sat his mother, stepfather and other loved ones. His mother Paula Diaz told her son “I love you” in Spanish before the sentence was delivered.

“I want to say I’m sorry for my actions,” Espinoza-Aguilar said in court. “To him, to his family, to his friends. There’s no excuses. There’s nothing I can say that can justify my acts.”

The injured man was not present at the sentencing Monday.

Around 8 p.m. July 3, 2022, the defendant and a woman were outside an apartment complex in the 10100 block of Holly Drive, according to charges. The woman reportedly was borrowing a pair of pants from a friend that lived in the building.

Espinoza-Aguilar reportedly did not let the woman enter the apartment complex to change into the pants, but instead told her to change in the car. The two continued arguing until Espinoza-Aguilar eventually yelled, “If you don’t get back in the car with me right now, the next person that comes out of that apartment complex is going to get it,” police reports say.

A man, who did not know either party, then exited the apartment and walked past the couple on the way to his car, according to court documents. As he entered back into his apartment, Espinoza-Aguilar reportedly approached the man from behind and shot him in the back of the head with a .45-caliber gun. The man fell to the ground and the defendant ran away, charges say.

Witnesses in the apartment complex found the man “face down in a pool of blood,” court documents say. They called 911 and the man was transported to a hospital with gunshot wounds to the head.

Deputy prosecutor Matthew Hunter claimed the injured man has suffered long-term medical issues, to the point where he could not recognize his children at Espinoza-Aguilar’s bail hearing last year.

On July 22, 2022, police identified a black Chevrolet Cobalt they believed Espinoza was driving. Police located the vehicle in the 2500 block of 199th Place SW in Lynnwood. The suspect fled, ramming head-on into a patrol car. The defendant and a passenger were both taken into custody.

Jose Espinoza Aguilar

Jose Espinoza Aguilar

Court records show Espinoza-Aguilar claimed self-defense when he shot a man to death in 2015. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to second-degree assault for shooting a woman in the back out of revenge at Langus Riverfront Park. He had accused the woman of stealing $2,000 in heroin from him.

On Monday, the prosecutor recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison, the statutory maximum for second-degree assault, considering the defendant’s previous criminal history.

“If you look at the conduct in this case, it’s nothing short of outrageous really,” Hunter said Monday. “It’s a miracle we’re not here on homicide or murder.”

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Jennifer Langbehn expressed concern for how quickly the defendant committed the July 2022 offense after being released from prison.

Espinoza-Aguilar’s attorney Derek Conom recommended a sentence of 5 years in prison. Conom argued the defendant is willing to grow from his past mistakes to make better decisions.

“He’s made some gigantic mistakes, and I don’t think he would deny that,” Conom said.

The defendant’s loved ones wrote letters to Langbehn, urging the judge to show grace for Espinoza-Aguilar. Diaz, a native Spanish speaker, addressed the judge, with her daughter Stephanie Espinoza acting as an interpreter.

“I am loyal to God, and I have faith in God, and I have faith in mercy,” Diaz said. “And I know God is giving him another opportunity to become someone better in life. And I ask you judge to please have mercy and give my son another opportunity. I would really appreciate it.”

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434;; Twitter: @mayatizon

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