Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Martinez man sentenced to life in prison for 2020 drive-by killing

Nathan Gabriel Garza, 18, was fatally shot on Aug. 16, 2020, in American Canyon, California. On Friday, June 9, 2023, Garza’s killer, Christopher “Roly” Young, 26 of Martinez, was sentenced to life in prison for the killing. Courtesy photo.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley announced on Friday the sentencing of convicted murderer Christopher “Roly” Young to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting death of 18-year-old Nathan Gabriel Garza of Fairfield.

Young’s sentencing is the culmination of a thorough investigation and lengthy trial in which Napa County Deputy District Attorneys Taryn Hunter and Diane Knoles proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was solely responsible for the Aug. 16, 2020, murder.

Several of Garza’s friends and family members were present in court today including his mother, Tracy Garza, who read a witness impact statement to the court.

“My world, my family, my very being was shattered when Nathan was taken from us,” she said. “It has taken almost three years for the justice system, the honorable men and women in law enforcement and the Napa County District Attorney’s Office, and a panel of brave and dedicated jurors to find Christopher Young guilty of all charges, describing and depicting the ruthless murder of my son Nathan Gabriel Garza. No parent or loved one should have to see or hear what we have endured during this process. We live with this knowledge and horrifying images every moment, of every day, of our lives.”

On May 11, a Napa jury convicted Young, age 26, of Martinez, of first-degree murder in connection with the killing of Garza, who was shot twice in the back by the defendant while fulfilling curbside delivery orders at Safeway in American Canyon where he worked.

Immediately after shooting Garza from the Cadillac sedan he drove to Safeway, Young sped away from the parking lot and abandoned his vehicle nearby on Cattail Drive.

Napa County Sheriff’s deputies apprehended Young shortly after receiving several reports of the defendant hopping fences and entering back yards of neighborhood homes.

The jury also convicted Young of shooting from a motor vehicle, felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, and giving false information to a police officer, and found true the special circumstances of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm, firing a weapon from a vehicle with the intent to inflict death, and of lying in wait.

Judge Elia Ortiz sentenced Young to two consecutive terms, one term of life without the possibility of parole and the other of 28 years to life.

Judge Ortiz also ordered a restitution amount to be paid to Garza’s loved ones and to the California Victim Compensation Board.

Garza was a recent graduate of Rodriguez High School and was working a summer job at Safeway in American Canyon before continuing his studies at Diablo Valley College.

He was a young man who had his whole life ahead of him before he was ambushed by Young, who was a stranger to him, Napa County Deputy DA Knoles said.

“Thankfully the jury saw through Young’s contrived defense and convicted him on all charges and allegations,” Knoles said. “The defendant has not demonstrated a shred of remorse for Nathan or for his devastated family. We are grateful that this sentence provides justice by ensuring that he will never again be a threat to anyone and that he will be punished to the fullest extent possible.”

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