RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A jury took little more than two hours to reach a guilty verdict today for a man charged with attempted murder for slashing an Upland police officer with a knife at a Mervyn’s store in 2007.
Authorities say Johnny Joe Magallanez, 28, attacked the officer and cut his arm with a four-inch blade when the officer tried to arrest him on suspicion of burglary.
Magallanez had stacked boxes of merchandise near the exit of the Mountain Avenue store, and employees believed he was preparing to steal it.
Seven stitches were needed to close the wound suffered by Upland police officer Gabriel Garcia, said Deputy District Attorney Carlo DiCesare.
In an interview shortly after the December 2007 incident, DiCesare said Magallanez tried to cut Garcia’s neck and face.
“Fortunately, it didn’t work,” DiCesare said.
Magallanez, of the Northern California city of Corning, will face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for the 2007 attack at 233 S. Mountain Ave. in Upland, DiCesare said.
In addition to the attempted-murder charge, a West Valley Superior Court jury found Magallanez guilty of resisting arrest.
“We agree with the jury’s verdict, and I think they’ve sent a message that violence against police officers is not going to be tolerated in the community,” DiCesare said.
Magallanez’s defense attorney, Margis Matulionis, has not returned a call seeking comment this afternoon.
DiCesare said that Matulionis told jurors during his closing argument Wednesday that Magallanez did not try to kill the officer during the incident.
The defense attorney claimed the officer was cut by his own flashlight, DiCesare said.
During the two-day trial, DiCesare said he called three police officers and one Mervyn’s employee to the witness stand. The defense did not put on any witnesses, DiCesare said.
Garcia is not available for comment today, Upland police Sgt. Cliff Mathews said this afternoon.
“The Upland police department is pleased with the verdict,” Mathews said. “Justice has been served.”
Magallanez has prior felony convictions for burglary, possession a stolen vehicle, and unlawfully possessing a firearm, DiCesare said.
He is set to be sentenced on July 9.
Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.