Thomas Guerra

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Thomas Guerra
Thomas Miguel Guerra

(1985-02-23) February 23, 1985 (age 34)
Occupationlandscape architect
Home townTulare, California, USA

Thomas Miguel Guerra (a.k.a. Ashton Lucian Chavez[1] or Tomii Guerra[1]) (born February 23, 1985) is an American landscape architect who became the first person in the state of California to be convicted for intentionally infecting another individual with HIV. In court, prosecutors presented 11,000 text messages and 36 audio clips to support their case against Guerra. Since then, Guerra has been accused of intentionally exposing dozens of other men to HIV.[2][3][4] Guerra is the great-nephew of labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.[1][5][6]

HIV exposure conviction[edit]

Guerra's ex-boyfriend filed a complaint against him with San Diego police in August, 2013.[1][7][8]

On March 9, 2015, Guerra pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of violating a California health code by failing to tell his former partner he was HIV positive. Guerra had previously pled not guilty and changed his plea the morning his trial was set to begin.[3][7][9] According to San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Guerra's case was the first prosecution of willful HIV transmission in San Diego. There had also been no previous successful prosecutions across the state since the California Legislature adopted the health statute in 1995.[3][4]

Additional victims came forward after the case received media publicity; they filed cases in various California cities stating that Guerra had lied to them about being HIV-negative.[1][6] Some of those cases are still pending.[1][10] Investigators found 11,000 text messages and videos in which Guerra laughed about lying to sexual partners about his HIV status.[11] "Yay lol. Someone getting poz that day," Guerra texted to a friend. "Poor Sucka."[2][5] On 5 May 2015 Guerra was sentenced to six months in jail.[2][12]

Despite pressure to file the case as a felony, which would have carried a term of up to eight years in prison,[4] San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis had twice declined to do so. At his sentencing hearing Guerra told Judge Lewis that he had "no remorse" for his actions. He blamed the victim, who he said was "reckless" because they had met on the gay dating site Grindr.[2][4]

Judge Lewis said she would have liked to have given Guerra a harsher sentence, but California statutes prevented her doing so:[2][5] "I don't think in my 25-plus years in law, I've ever seen somebody be so lacking of insight, blame or responsibility that you have demonstrated," she stated to Guerra before sentencing him to the maximum allowed per California statue, 6 months in jail.[4][11] San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said in a statement that the sentence "was inadequate given the damage done to the victim and the danger to the public posed by [Guerra]."[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lyanne Melendez (August 28, 2015). "Man accused of intentionally infecting men in San Francisco, SoCal with HIV". ABC7-San Francisco. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Michael E. Miller (May 5, 2015). "Man who knowingly spread HIV sentenced to six months. Judge calls it a 'travesty.'". Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Marcella Lee (March 9, 2015). "Man pleads no contest to willfully spreading HIV". CBS8-San Diego. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Matthew Tharrett (May 5, 2015). "Man Who Purposefully Infected His Boyfriend With HIV Gets Six Months In Prison". Logo. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Deborah Hastings (May 5, 2015). "San Diego man who intentionally spread HIV sentenced to 6 months in jail". NY Daily News. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Mariana Jacob (August 27, 2015). "Man accused of spreading HIV intentionally". ABC30-Fresno. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Neal Broverman (March 11, 2015). "San Diego Man Pleads Guilty to Spreading HIV". Advocate. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  8. ^ Crimesider Staff (August 29, 2015). "California man accused of intentionally spreading HIV". CBS News. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  9. ^ Tony Perry (March 9, 2015). "Man who fails to tell partner he is HIV positive pleads no contest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  10. ^ Mariana Jacob (November 13, 2015). "Visalia man says another man knowingly gave him HIV". ABC7-San Francisco. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Elex Michaelson (May 5, 2015). "San Diego man who knowingly spread HIV sentenced to 6 months". ABC7. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  12. ^ Tony Perry (May 4, 2015). "San Diego man sentenced to jail for not telling partner he is HIV positive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 6, 2015.