A San Francisco Superior Court judge today sentenced a gang member to 28 years to life in prison for the 2006 stabbing murder of a Mission District man mistakenly believed to be a rival gang member.
Royale LeBlanc, now 23, was convicted on June 12 of first-degree murder for the Nov. 25, 2006, killing of Carlos Urzua, of San Francisco. He was also found guilty of second-degree robbery and participation in a criminal street gang.
Urzua, 29, was robbed and attacked by a handful of men at about 3 a.m. after being dropped off outside his home in the 900 block of Alabama Street. He was stabbed three times in the neck, abdomen and chest, suffering 18 wounds total. He died later at the hospital.
Some of Urzua’s friends witnessed the attack and called police as Urzua bled to death in his father’s arms.
LeBlanc and Jonathan Johnston, reputed Norteno gang members, were arrested a short time later after they were spotted driving nearby. Their white Chevrolet Caprice matched the description of the suspect vehicle and bloody clothes were found inside the car.
LeBlanc, nicknamed “Crazy Teno,” also had Urzua’s cell phone.
The main witness in the trial was a young man who testified he was in the car with LeBlanc, Johnston and others that had been following the car in which Urzua had been riding.
The witness, who was 16 years old at the time and a prospective gang member, said Johnston, the reputed shot-caller in the gang whose nickname was “Savage,” mistook Urzua for a member of the rival Sureno gang.
Johnston told LeBlanc, “There’s a scrap, go get him,” according to the witness.
The witness said LeBlanc followed Urzua up the front stairs, and then robbed and stabbed him.
Urzua, a single father of a 10-year-old girl, who lived with his father and younger brother at the home, had no gang affiliation.
Urzua’s father read a statement in Spanish in court today, thanking the judge, police and prosecutors for bringing “justice” for his son’s death.
Urzua’s sister, Karla Urzua, said she was “grateful … that justice has been served for my brother Carlos.”
LeBlanc’s attorney, Mark Goldrosen, argued for leniency, saying his client came from a “very disadvantaged and very difficult background.”
Goldrosen said LeBlanc’s mother abandoned him as an infant and that his father died of a drug overdose when he was young.
LeBlanc then lived in the care of his grandparents, but a lack of emotional support “left him vulnerable to fall into the gang lifestyle,” Goldrosen said.
Judge Jerome Benson, however, sentenced LeBlanc to the full term of 28 years to life in prison.
Benson called the murder “depressing and anger-provoking” and “an example of the mindless gangland violence that plagues many urban areas in this country.”
Benson said the evidence presented at trial showed “that this was a wanton, senseless, monstrous and brutal murder.”
Johnston, now 30, was convicted in June of second-degree murder and participation in a criminal street gang for Urzua’s killing. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9.