(FeaturedNews.com) – A dispute in July 2018 ended in Christopher Sanders shooting three men, two of whom were killed. 28-year-old Jesse Villanueva and 17-year-old Peniamina Romera were murdered outside the West Shaw Estates condominiums in Fresno, California on July 30, and their families are outraged at the outcome of the then 18-year-old’s recent sentencing.
Conflicting Evidence Made Sentencing Difficult
Attorney Miles Harris explained that proving first-degree murder would likely be difficult based on conflicting statements from witnesses. He went on to elaborate that decisions must be made based on the facts of the evidence that is available, rather than feelings and opinions.
Largely for this reason, he worked to draft a deal that would result in Sanders pleading no contest in exchange for 18 years in prison. He reasoned that this option would have a higher likelihood of being fair to Sanders, rather than sending the case to a trial that could result in Sanders facing life in prison without possibility of parole based on faulty evidence regarding exactly what happened and why.
18 Year Plea Deal Frustrates Families
Judge Kapetan initially rejected the plea deal in November, siding with the families of the victims that believed 18 years was too light of a sentence in light of the double murder. However, Presiding Judge Harrell quickly overturned this decision and accepted the deal, confirming Harris’s stance that the statements that were provided were not strong enough to place the outcome in the hands of a jury.
Although this was likely the best decision for Sanders in light of the relatively flimsy facts that were available, it outraged the families of both victims. Villanueva’s wife and Romera’s parents, in particular, expressed anger and concerns that the 18-year sentence was too little in light of the irreparable damage that was done to their families.
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