Men given life sentence for Visalia Mall shooting

Harsh words from a judge to the two men convicted of a shooting at the Visalia Mall. Both were given a life sentence. (KFSN)
April 10, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Harsh words from a judge to the two men convicted of a shooting at the Visalia Mall. Both were given a life sentence.

Adrian Esquer, 21, and Anthony Hanson, 20, were both found guilty of six counts of attempted murder, one count for each person in the crossfire.

No emotion from both Anthony Hanson and Adrian Esquer as a judge sentenced them to 364 years and 406 years to life in prison, respectively. Before the sentencing, attorneys for both defendants asked for leniency.

Adrian Esquer's attorney Victor Perez said, "I believe that he was the opinion that he had the necessity to defend himself given the circumstances."

Anthony Hanson's attorney Roland Soltesz said, "What I would like the court to do is consider Mr. Hanson's lesser involvement in this crime."

Prosecutor Mikki Verrissimo pleaded for the maximum penalty, calling the crime "heinous."

Authorities say both Hanson and Esquer got into a confrontation with a rival gang near "The Sweet Factory" at the Visalia Mall on a busy Friday night back in 2012. Esquer fired a gun, sending many screaming and running for their lives. The two were convicted of attempted murder on six people, one count for each person in or near the candy store.

Verrissimo added, "He actually turned his gun and pointed down the hall when he shot into the Hollister window which is where the tape shows the man with the stroller just missed that bullet going thru the Hollister window by seconds."

The judge agreed with the prosecutor and sentenced each of them to the maximum penalty, saying normally, he finds it hard to give someone a life term in prison.

Hon. Joseph Kalashian said, "It's always a difficult thing for me to do over the years but it's not hard for me to do in your case, not when I'm protecting the public."

The defendants' family members were overcome with emotion by Thursday's outcome. Many were heard crying and yelling in the hallway afterwards, eventually needing to be escorted outside by several deputies.

Anthony Hanson's aunt Elia Gonzales said, "300 something years for not even a murder? It's outrageous."

Hanson's family plans on filing an appeal to the case. Two of the six people inside the mall that night, were hit by bullets.

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