EL CAJON, Calif. — A man who gunned down a fleeing acquaintance in La Mesa because the victim slashed a tire on his truck was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in state prison.
Christopher James Artale, 42, was convicted in May of second-degree murder and firearm allegations in connection with the slaying of 35-year-old Aldo Prado, who was shot once in the back of the head outside the defendant’s La Mesa home on the afternoon of Oct. 1, 2017. He died in a hospital two days later.
Deputy District Attorney Valerie Ryan said Prado and Artale had an argument that led to Prado vandalizing a tire on Artale’s truck. She said Prado walked past a witness and told him “Tell him I did it,” which she said indicated Prado was only intending to vandalize Artale’s truck, and not to attack him as the defense claimed.
Ryan said that after encountering the witness, Prado began cutting Artale’s tire. Later, Prado noticed an armed Artale “emerge from the bushes,” the prosecutor said. Prado then ran off and Artale took a shooting stance and fired, she said.
The prosecutor emphasized that despite Artale’s stated belief that he thought Prado was going to his home to attack him, Artale never called police or his family inside the home to warn them. She said Artale instead went outside the home to work on his truck.
“He was waiting, he was welcoming, he was anticipating a confrontation,” Ryan said.
Defense attorney Richard Boesen countered that Artale was under no obligation to call the police and said his reactions during “a terrifying situation,” in which he was in fear for his life, were being unfairly scrutinized by the prosecution.
Boesen said Artale had gone to Prado’s National City home to help him move some things, during which Prado threatened him with a knife, then pursued him on the roadways all the way to Artale’s home in La Mesa, just prior to the shooting.
Boesen said that after puncturing the tire, Artale then stood and swiped the blade at Artale, prompting the shooting.
The defense attorney highlighted Prado’s criminal history, which includes an assault with a deadly weapon conviction. Boesen said Prado once attacked his mother with a knife and threatened to murder a past girlfriend. The attorney also said the victim had persistent drug problems, was prone to fits of rage, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“Aldo Prado, despite all his blemishes, was (Artale’s) friend. Maybe not a good choice of friend, but he was his friend,” Boesen said, telling jurors that Prado sold Artale drugs to help with pain he suffered due an unspecified elbow injury.
The defense attorney also called the eyewitness’ credibility into question, saying he changed details of his account several times between his initial statements to police and his trial testimony, particularly in misidentifying Artale’s clothing and saying he heard multiple gunshots fired, when there was only one.