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San Diego

An Encanto man was convicted Friday of premeditated attempted murder in the shooting of a driver who had given the defendant a ride.

The San Diego Superior Court jury deliberated for only two hours before convicting Michael Manuel Brito, 26, of attempted murder, which carries a penalty of life in state prison.

The victim, Eugene Smith, 27, who was shot in the back, identified Brito in court as the man who shot him Aug. 12. Smith, who worked for the San Diego Park and Recreation Department, said he stopped on California 94 after seeing the defendant with a gas can. The assailant pointed a gun at him while getting into his car, Smith testified, then shot him.

The gunman drove off in Smith’s 1981 Cadillac, which was later found stripped at the end of the street Brito lived on.

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The jury also convicted Brito of assault with a deadly weapon and robbery, and ruled that the victim suffered great bodily injuries, which adds three years to the sentence.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeff Dusek said Brito faces a probable life sentence, plus a consecutive term of 11 years in prison.

Judge Ross Tharp set sentencing for April 7.

After the conviction, the judge ruled that Brito had been convicted of grand theft and burglary several years ago, a finding that adds six years to the sentence, said Dusek.

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Brito, a mechanic, was arrested Aug. 22 after a tip to the Crime Stoppers program.


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