Man guilty in gang shooting

Published: Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.

BARTOW — A central Florida man faces a mandatory life sentence after being convicted of a fatal gang shooting.

A Polk County jury found 20-year-old Alejandro Baez-Garcia guilty Thursday of first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Because prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty, life imprisonment is the only option at his Feb. 1 sentencing.

Authorities say Baez-Garcia was riding in a van with friends in January 2011 when he opened the sliding door and began firing at people in front of a Lakeland home. The Ledger ( ) reports that 19-year-old Juan Castillo and his then-11-year-old brother were both hit. Castillo died from his wounds, and the younger brother was left paralyzed.

A defense attorney says Baez-Garcia was acting in self-defense after Castillo and others began throwing rocks and sticks at the van.

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