Solis-Diaz

Man Sentenced to 92 Years as Teen for Shooting Gets 3rd Chance at Shorter Prison Term

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

A man sentenced to 92 years in prison as a teenager for a drive-by shooting on South Tower Avenue in Centralia will have his third  at a lower sentence in Lewis County Superior Court this June. 

Guadalupe Solis-Diaz is scheduled to come back to Lewis County Superior Court for a new sentence at 1:30 p.m. June 15 in Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee’s court.

Solis-Diaz was first sentenced to 1,111 months, or 92 and 1/2 years in prison in 2007 by former Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt after being convicted of a drive-by shooting in which no one was injured.

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He appealed, arguing he had ineffective assistance of counsel. In 2012, the state Court of Appeals ruled Solis-Diaz should be re-sentenced.

Solis-Diaz asked for an exceptional downward sentence at his re-sentencing hearing, saying that given his age at the time of the sentence, 92 years was “clearly excessive,” and argued his age meant he had a “diminished capacity to understand the wrongfulness and consequences of his actions,” according to an appeals court ruling. 

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Hunt again presided over the second hearing and imposed an identical sentence, saying he did not believe he had authority to impose a lower sentence in a serious, violent offense, according to court documents.

In March 2016, the sentence was reversed a second time, with appeals court judges ruling Hunt failed to properly consider a lower sentence for the defendant based on his age and to “mitigate the consecutive sentences required under the multiple offense policy,” according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Solis-Diaz then asked the Supreme Court to consider a request to disqualify Hunt, arguing that Hunt was no longer objective and that the appearance of fairness doctrine allows him to be sentenced by an impartial court.

The Supreme Court ruled that Hunt has “extensive experience” as a prosecutor, defense attorney and as a judge, and has specific experience in juvenile justice and said the record of the case reflects that knowledge.

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“But the record also reflects Judge Hunt’s frustration and unhappiness at the Court of Appeals requiring him to address anew whether Solis-Diaz should be considered for an exceptional downward sentence on the basis of his age or the multiple offense policy,” the Supreme Court’s ruling states. “The judge’s remarks at the first resentencing strongly suggest that, regardless of the information presented in mitigation, he is committed to the original standard range sentence of 1,111 months.”

Hunt retired and was replaced by Judge Andrew Toynbee in January 2017.