Bryan Taylor, Canyon County Prosecutor, announced today that Ethan S. Almaraz, age 18, of Caldwell, was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas W. Whitney for the felony crimes of First-Degree Murder with a Gang Enhancement, Aggravated Battery by Use of a Deadly Weapon, and two counts of Aggravated Assault by Use of a Deadly Weapon. Almaraz was found guilty by a jury of his peers on all the above charges following a seven-day trial this past October.
Judge Whitney sentenced Almaraz as follows:
- Count I: First-Degree Murder – 32 years fixed + life indeterminate
- Count II: Aggravated Battery – 7 years fixed + 9 years indeterminate
- Count III: Aggravated Assault – 4 years fixed + 6 years indeterminate
- Count IV: Aggravated Assault – 4 years fixed + 6 years indeterminate
The sentences will run concurrently for a total unified sentence of 32 years to life in prison. Judge Whitney also ordered Almaraz to submit a DNA sample to the Idaho database and have no contact with the victims, their families, and several of the witnesses for a period of seventy years. Judge Whitney also ordered Almaraz to pay a $5,500 civil penalty along with court costs.
Almaraz was arrested on a felony warrant in October 2021 after being indicted by a grand jury for his role in a Caldwell gang homicide that occurred on September 17, 2021. According to court documents, Almaraz, a documented Norteno gang member, and other Norteno gang members were at a party when other teens from a rival gang were in the area. The two sides got into an altercation, someone fired a gun in the air, and the teens began to scatter. Almaraz was in a vehicle with two other Norteno gang members and approached the intersection of Indiana Avenue and Hillcrest Street in Caldwell. Almaraz demanded that another individual in the vehicle hand him a handgun and then fired seven times into a group of individuals who were running away, hitting Jose Hernandez and another 19-year-old man. Both men were taken to the hospital, where Hernandez later died from his injuries.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Whitney spoke about Almaraz refusing to take responsibility or show remorse for killing a rival gang member. Judge Whitney also noted his complete lack of regard for others by firing multiple shots in a neighborhood where innocent bystanders could have been severely harmed by his actions. Judge Whitney also spoke about the danger to society that Almaraz poses by refusing to leave the gang life.
“This was a young gang member who threw the rest of his life away by senselessly shooting and killing a rival gang member,” said Prosecutor Bryan Taylor. “The citizens of Canyon County have zero tolerance for gangs and gang activity. It has no place in our community. I hope today’s sentence sends a message that those who commit gang-related crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and held accountable for their actions.”