King County Courthouse in Seattle. COURTESY PHOTO, King County

King County Courthouse in Seattle. COURTESY PHOTO, King County

Renton man sentenced for killing 17-year-old in 2021 with sawed-off shotgun

Incident took place at a Bellevue movie theater parking lot.

A King County Superior Court judge sentenced a 20-year-old Renton man for the July 2021 murder of a 17-year-old boy with a sawed-off shotgun in a movie theater parking lot in Bellevue.

Judge Andrea Darvas sentenced Carlos Anthony Espinoza to 22 years in confinement at his sentencing hearing on Jan. 26.

Espinoza pleaded guilty to three counts, including murder in the second degree with a firearm enhancement, unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and assault in the third degree for the July 7, 2021, shooting of Daniel Tovar Moreno, 17.

Moreno died following the shooting at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle as a result of a shotgun blast to the chest, the autopsy found, after medical personnel transported him to the hospital.

According to court documents, Espinoza shot Daniel at point blank range with a sawed-off shotgun in the parking lot of an AMC movie theater in the 3500 block of Factoria Boulevard Southeast in Bellevue, leaving him lying in the middle of the parking lot.

According to charging documents, Espinoza walked back-and-forth between the victim’s vehicle and his vehicle following the shooting, deterring several witnesses in the area wanting to provide aid to Daniel, prior to driving from the scene.

Detectives arrested Espinoza the following day, July 8, 2021, at his residence in Renton, discovering a shotgun in the backseat of his vehicle, in addition to a hacksaw and a removed length of barrel in his bedroom.

Prosecutors charged Espinoza with murder in the second degree and unlawful possession of a short-barreled shotgun on July 13, 2021.

Espinoza pleaded guilty in November 2023, accepting a plea deal from prosecutors that added an additional assault in the third degree charge.

According to court documents, the additional assault in the third degree charge concerned an incident in June 2021 involving Espinoza and a girl he dated.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Espinoza retrieved a shotgun from the backseat of his vehicle and aimed the gun at a girl he dated as they sat in his vehicle parked in Bellevue.

“Espinoza then laughed and said he was kidding, and put the shotgun away,” the affidavit stated.

As per Espinoza’s plea deal, prosecutors recommended Espinoza’s sentence for his murder conviction run concurrently to his unlawful firearm possession charge and the additional assault charge — totalling to 17 years — with a five-year sentence as a result of the firearm enhancement to his murder charge to run consecutively.

Judge Darvas ordered an additional four years of community custody following Espinoza’s sentence.

Espinoza will serve his sentence in the custody of the Washington State Department of Corrections, with credit for time served.


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