A man who pleaded guilty in January to a 2016 Thanksgiving day murder of a Lexington middle schooler was sentenced Friday to 33 years in prison.
In addition to murder, Kevin Josue Ipina-Garcia, 25, also pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment and evidence tampering as attorneys made final preparations for trial in the murder of 14-year-old Angel Juarez. Fayette Circuit Court Judge Lucy VanMeter sentenced Ipina-Garcia to 23 years for the murder conviction, five years for wanton endangerment and five years for evidence tampering.
Juarez was shot in the upper chest at his Henton Road home on the night of Nov. 24, 2016, and he later died at a Lexington hospital.
Jared Bewley, who represents Ipina-Garcia, said his client was sorry for how everything turned out and for everyone he hurt. Ipina-Garcia did not give a statement in the courtroom.
Before the shooting, several people meeting in a nearby neighborhood park were robbed by an unknown person, according to court records. Angel’s brother, Danilo Juarez, was part of the group robbed. The robber took credit cards and cash.
Danilo Juarez had arranged the meeting, and some victims suspected that he had set up the robbery, according to court records. A member of the group, Jose Ayala, left the park and picked up Ipina-Garcia, then 23 years old.
Ayala and Ipina-Garcia went to the Juarez home’s front porch and rang the doorbell. According to court records, Ipina-Garcia asked the victim’s brother, Christian Juarez, “Where is Danilo?”
Christian told the man, “He’s not here.” Ipina-Garcia responded, “Are you sure?”
Christian Juarez became concerned, shut the door and walked back into the house. Ipina-Garcia fired through the door as Angel Juarez went to the door. Angel’s brother, Christian, heard two gunshots and saw Angel retreat into the home holding his chest.
Witnesses identified Ipina-Garcia as the shooter. according to court records. Ipina-Garcia told police that he went to the Juarez home to confront Danilo about the robbery and fired the gun because he believed the victim to be Danilo, court records say.
Danilo Juarez was not at home at the time of the shooting.
Ipina-Garcia was arrested two days after the shooting in Putnam County, W. Va.
Angel, a student at Leestown Middle School, was an outgoing boy who loved basketball, family friend Sharon Byrd said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kimberly Baird said in January the office is glad Ipina-Garcia took responsibility for the murder.
“There’s no amount of time ever that could fix or change what occurred,” she said. “We’re glad the family doesn’t have to go and relive that night. We hope this will give them just a little bit of peace and a little bit of resolution for this case.”