CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Luciano Guerra, 20, was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the March stabbing death of Andrew Gama.
While the family of Andrew Gama sobbed, defendant Luciano Guerra bowed his head in his hands and cried, reaching for a tissue while a jury’s guilty verdicts were read.
Thursday, after less than two hours of deliberations a Curry County jury convicted Guerra, 20, of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the March stabbing of Gama.
“Nobody wins here today,” said District Judge Teddy Hartley after reading the verdict.
Prosecutors argued Guerra, 19 years old at the time of the attack, stabbed 21-year-old Gama 13 times during what started as a fist fight.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said 12 of the wounds were under Gama’s left arm and one in his back. Three of the wounds — a puncture to the heart, spleen and lungs — were identified by medical experts as potentially fatal.
“He brought a knife to a fist fight and didn’t hesitate to use it and stabbed and killed an unarmed man,” Chandler said.
“(A guilty verdict) doesn’t make it any easier for the family but it does bring some sense of resolution and justice for their loss.”
The fight took place just after midnight in the south parking lot of the Clovis Apartments at Charlotte and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Chandler said there were other fights that took place among a crowd of people there, many of whom became eye witnesses to the stabbing.
Though there had been prior altercations between Gama and a member of Guerra’s family, Chandler said there was no real indication of a motive for the fight other than bad blood.
“Law enforcement worked very hard and diligently to bring this case to resolution and jurors delivered a verdict that brought justice to Andrew,” he said.
Defense Attorney Michael Garrett argued his client didn’t stab Gama but that the fight between them was self-defense.
Garrett declined comment following the trial.
Guerra faces a 60-day diagnostic screening prior to sentencing being imposed, Hartley said, acknowledging tampering with evidence is the only charge against Guerra in which he has sentencing discretion.
First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life imprisonment with a possibility of parole after 30 years, under state statute.