Crime - Sacto 911

West Sacramento teenager recovering after drive-by shooting

Alize Valadez, 14, spells out words using a paper alphabet chart while her sister, Bianca Valadez, 23, looks on. The teen was shot October 24, 2015.
Alize Valadez, 14, spells out words using a paper alphabet chart while her sister, Bianca Valadez, 23, looks on. The teen was shot October 24, 2015. Richard Chang/rchang@sacbee.com

Letter by letter, Alize Valadez spells out words on a paper alphabet chart using her right hand.

The 14-year-old West Sacramento girl is slowly getting her life back, months after she was shot in the head while resting at home during an apparent drive-by shooting.

She cannot talk or walk. Neither can she swallow.

But her survival has been dubbed a miracle by family members who are grateful she is alive after a bullet left Alize in a coma for several weeks.

“We’re excited about every new thing she does,” said Hope Penunuri, Alize’s grandmother and guardian.

This week, Alize began sitting up in bed and started moving her left hand. Doctors can’t say how much mobility she will regain, the family said.

Asked what she wanted to do the most, Alize spelled out the words, “walk” and “talk.”

Alize was resting on the sofa in the living room Oct. 24 when someone fired several rounds at her Solano Street home.

West Sacramento police later arrested Sonny Rudy Martinez, 39, of Stockton in connection with the incident, but he was later released from custody after the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office determined there was insufficient evidence. Martinez remains a person of interest, according to police spokesman Sgt. Roger Kinney.

Kinney on Monday said there are no updates to release in the investigation.

“At this point, we’re just asking for information” from the public, he said.

Authorities have not established a motive in the shooting.

Penunuri wondered why someone would target her house. The 64-year-old said she is a lifelong West Sacramento resident. She gained custody of Alize at age 4.

“Everybody knows me,” Penunuri said. “Only me and Alize live here.”

Then, pausing, she added, “I don’t want anyone to forget what has happened to her. She needs justice.”

Three different therapists and a nurse visit Alize multiple times a week. She relies on a feeding tube because she can’t swallow.

During a brief interview Monday, Alize was alert and exchanged smiles with her sister, Bianca Valadez, 23.

Asked what she wanted to do the most, Alize spelled out the words, “walk” and “talk.”

Bianca Valadez, who works at a warehouse and has four children, comes over daily to help care for Alize.

“We are two peas in a pod,” said Valadez.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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