By KELI JACOBI News-Times Staff The defendant in a Marysville drive-by murder case pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Thursday and received a 15-year prison sentence – almost exactly one year to the day since family members witnessed the victim’s death from inside the family home during a birthday celebration for him.
Carlos Magallanes, 28, who has been in Union County Jail since his arrest last April, was also handed a five-year suspended imposition of sentence by Judge Hamilton H. Singleton and allowed 348 days of pre-trial incarceration credit.
Jason Sullivan, 28, was fatally wounded when one of seven shots fired from a vehicle allegedly driven by Magallanes struck him in the head as he stood inside the doorway of his parents’ residence on Magnolia Highway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It’s a difficult case because, on the surface, the punishment doesn’t match the crime," acknowledged Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Rogers.
A charge of second-degree murder, in which a defendant acts "with reckless disregard to the value of human life," is now classed as an "A" f elony and carries a stiffer 30-year penalty since the statue was recently amended by the state legislature.
At the time of Sullivan’s murder, the maximum penalty for second-degree murder was 20 years.
Rogers confessed there were "hurdles that would’ve been an obstacle towards a conviction" in the year-old case and that the "risk of reversal on appeal sometimes needs to be considered."
The conviction comes just weeks after Judge Singleton initially denied the state’s plea offer to Magallanes, following vociferous objections from the victim’s family during the Jan. 26 th session of Union County Circuit Court. Singleton ordered the prosecutor’s office to re-convene with the Sullivan family to discuss the legalities of the case and continued it until Thursday.
The News-Times learned shortly after Magallanes’ plea that Rogers will be filing second-degree murder charges against an alleged accomplice to the murder, Salvador Rodriguez.
Magallanes points to Rodriguez as the primary suspect responsible for pulling the trigger of the .22 rifle which resulted in Sullivan’s death. Rodriguez maintains he was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, but accuses Magallanes of the actual shooting, according to Rogers. Authorities never recovered the murder weapon and Rogers conceded that there were "other evidentiary issues that had to be taken into consideration" in choosing to offer the 15-year plea to Magallanes.
Rodriguez may have had more of a motive in the shooting because Sullivan kicked Rodriguez’s teeth out during a scuffle between the two, according to Rogers, who added that "it was Rodriguez’s teeth on the dashboard of that vehicle (when the shooting occurred.) "
The News-Times attempted to contact the Sullivan family on Thursday for reaction to the case, but as of press time, had not been able to reach them.