Man sentenced for string of armed robberies

SAN DIEGO — A man who held a loaded gun on three people during separate gas station robberies in San Diego over a 90-minute span was sentenced Wednesday to eight years and eight months in state prison.

Hector Godinez, 32, pleaded guilty in April to a pair of robbery counts, one count of attempted robbery, possession of stolen property (a gun) and negligent discharge of a firearm.

Defense attorney Vickie Fernandes told Judge Polly Shamoon that Godinez was “quite remorseful and sorry” for the crimes and didn’t want any of his victims to have to come to court and testify.

The attorney called her client’s actions “reckless and extremely dangerous,” but said Godinez was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time. The defendant had no prior criminal record.

Deputy District Attorney Lucy Yturralde unsuccessfully argued for a prison sentence of more than 18 years, telling the judge that Godinez pointed a loaded firearm at all three victims and threatened to shoot them. One victim said the armed robbery “made him feel like no other experience,” according to the prosecutor.

Yturralde said the robberies took planning, noting Godinez changed clothes between the second and third robberies and after the third robbery.

The judge told the defendant that he was lucky he didn’t kill someone and wasn’t facing the death penalty.

The first robbery was reported shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Shell station at the corner of F and 25th streets in Golden Hill. Police said Godinez pulled a gun on an employee and fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

Shortly after 8 p.m., a similar holdup occurred at a 76 gas station at 1666 First Ave. in the Cortez area, but Godinez left without any money. The last in the string of robberies happened shortly after 9 p.m. at another Shell station on Division Street, in the Shelltown area.

A similar suspect description was provided in all three robberies — a thin Hispanic man in his late 30s to early 40s who is roughly 5-feet-7 and wore a black shirt and red pants. The suspect vehicle was described as a green Ford Ranger, authorities said.

At 10:40 p.m. on Jan. 16, some occupants of a green Ford Ranger ran off after the truck was stopped by Border Patrol agents on East 30th Street in National City. One of them dropped a loaded handgun while fleeing, according to National City police.

Arriving National City police officers recognized the pickup truck as the suspect vehicle in the earlier armed robberies and Godinez was arrested.