CARLSBAD — A 21-year-old man facing nearly two decades in prison for shooting at a group of people took a plea agreement Feb. 5 during his preliminary hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista.
With his 15-year-old girlfriend set to testify on his behalf, Matthew Darryl Marchetta of Carlsbad pleaded guilty to a single count each of assault with a firearm on a person, negligent discharge of a firearm and an assault with a taser, all felonies.
The charges stem from Marchetta opening fire on several people at a lagoon beach party in Carlsbad and stunning his ex-girlfriend’s brother, who was 15 at the time, with a taser the previous day, Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh said outside the courtroom.
Nobody was injured from the gunfire, according to authorities.
In accordance with his plea deal, Marchetta agreed to a stipulated sentence of five years and eight months in prison. Additionally, he will receive one strike and will be barred from owning firearms for the rest of his life, McHugh said. Marchetta’s sentencing is scheduled for March 26.
Because of the plea agreement, five counts of assault with a firearm on a person were dismissed, shaving 14 years and two strikes off Marchetta’s potential sentence if he would have been convicted of all the charges, the prosecutor said.
At the time of the incident, Marchetta was on probation for a 2006 vandalism conviction, McHugh said.
Witnesses testified Marchetta fired several shots in their direction and then as they fled he got in his truck and fired a few more shots in their direction. Prior to the shootings, witnesses said there was a fight between Marchetta’s girlfriend and another teen girl at the beach party.
At the center of the shooting and fight was Cory Marthens, who had dated both girls in the fight. Marthens said he went to the lagoon that night looking to find out if it was Marchetta or his ex-girlfriend who threw something at his truck the previous day, which resulted in him briefly tailgating and swerving into Marchetta’s lane.
When Marthens couldn’t find Marchetta, he told his friends to vandalize Marchetta’s vehicle, which caused the defendant to reveal himself.
Marthens said Marchetta then pulled out a gun and fired off a couple of rounds. Initially, Marthens said he thought the defendant was firing a paintball gun, but then realized it was actually a real firearm when bullets began whizzing past his head.
Defense witness Chase Howard, 20, refuted the prosecution’s witness accounts of the shooting, saying Marchetta actually fired his semi-automatic pistol into the ground. He said he met Marchetta through a mutual friend on the night of the incident.
Following the hearing, Marchetta’s attorney, William Nimmo, said he felt the plea agreement was a good resolution to the case because of the reduced prison time and strike. Nimmo said their position was that while it was reckless behavior, Marchetta’s intention was only to scare the group of people away, Nimmo said.
“He wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,” Nimmo said. “He just got himself in a situation that was a little bigger than him in a society that doesn’t permit it.”