Nelson Barrera, 31, was convicted in San Francisco Superior Court last month of repeatedly shooting Robert Mariano, a San Francisco resident who was 21 at the time of the attack.
Prosecutors said that Barrera, a member of the Salvadoran MS-13 street gang, shot Mariano in the 1300 block of Hampshire Street on Dec. 6, 2005.
Mariano had yelled at Barrera’s girlfriend about the dangers of bringing gang members to the area, and Barrera responded by shooting him in the back, prosecutors said.
Prosecutor Scot Clark said in court today that Barrera “shot him five times, in front of his sister and mother, all over nothing.”
Barrera was eventually arrested in connection with the shooting in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2006.
A jury found him guilty on March 15 of second-degree murder, carrying a concealed firearm, carrying a loaded firearm, and that he intentionally discharged the weapon, causing great bodily harm or death, according to the district attorney’s office.
Four family members and friends of Mariano spoke at today’s sentencing hearing, including his mother and sister.
His mother, Sharon Mariano, said, “Every day I’m not going to have the one thing in my life I want the most: my son.”
Barrera’s mother also spoke through a translator at the hearing, asking the victim’s family for forgiveness, but acknowledging “that is not enough.”
Barrera himself addressed the court, apologizing for his actions.
“I have no words to explain it,” he said. “I made mistakes, and sometimes you have to pay for those mistakes.”
His attorney, Brendan Conroy, said that Barrera “didn’t begin this provocation” but “clearly overreacted.”
But Clark said the “the idea of a provocation is absurd” because “there’s no provocation that justifies this kind of crime.”
Judge Jerome Benson denied a defense motion to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter, and this afternoon handed down the sentence, which was the maximum prison term for the charges. The sentence also requires the payment of $3,000 in restitution as well as other court fees.
“This case was a tragedy,” Benson said. “There are two saddened families and their mothers in this court this afternoon.”
Mariano’s sister Janet said the family is satisfied with the sentence, and Clark said outside court that “life in prison for a coward who shoots a man in the back is exactly what he deserves.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News