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Man sentenced 40 years to life in prison for stabbing a marine to death in the Gaslamp –

AN DIEGO (KUSI) – A man who fatally stabbed a Camp Pendleton Marine during a fight in the Gaslamp Quarter in 2017 was sentenced Thursday to 40 years to life in state prison.

Jose Oscar Esqueda, 41, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Ryan Harris, who was stabbed in the neck on Dec. 29, 2017. Another Marine, Andrew Haulman, suffered stab wounds to his chest and back during the during the altercation with Escenda, but survived his injuries.

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Lawson told jurors that Esqueda and co-defendant Jeff Shai Holliday wandered the Gaslamp around 1 a.m., looking for victims, a pattern he said appeared in a pair of stings the men were involved in earlier in the year . .

The prosecutor said the men scoured the downtown area for a potential victim before settling on Christopher De Herrera, who was alone at the corner of Island and Sixth avenues.

As seen on surveillance footage, Escenda and De Herrera exchanged words, and then Holliday punched De Herrera from behind. Four of De Herrera’s fellow Marines witnessed the fight and ran to intervene, leading to the stabbings of Harris and Haulman.

Holliday was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced earlier this year to 19 years in prison.

At Esqueda’s sentencing hearing, Lawson said Harris’ time in the Marines was nearly up and he was seeking a career in law enforcement at the time of his death.

“But because of the defendant’s choice on the night of this tragedy to go out and terrorize, to go after a victim, for no other reason than to cause pain and suffering … because of those actions and those choices, we have to ask what it could have been Ryan’s life,” Lawson said.

Among Harris’ loved ones to speak at the hearing was his grandfather, Larry Holt, who said Harris’ bedroom remains in his home “as it was, waiting for him to come home.”

“Our home will never be the same. My heart will never be the same,” Holt said. “I don’t have enough time in this world to make up for what I’ve lost.”

Harris’ mother, Kelly Weaver, said “even the good memories with Ryan still kill me” and told Esceda “How dare you take his life. You had no right.”

Escenda addressed the court and the victim’s family members, saying “I cannot express an apology that will ease the pain.”

Esqueda said “I may not have been the person I should have been,” but said he would use the prison time to “cooperate and make some adjustments. Maybe I’ll become the citizen I should be.”

At trial, Esqueda’s defense attorney Zaki Zahawi said De Herrera asked his client “where are you from?” a common gang challenge that is often taken as a serious threat and typically precedes violence. Once the other Marines joined the fray, Escenda tried to run but was grabbed by Haulman, who began throwing punches, prompting Escenda to use the knife in legal self-defense, Zahawi said.

But at the sentencing hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Frazier rejected the alleged gang-related motive and said the defendants were “solely responsible” for what happened.

“There was no purpose in the killing. No one. Meaningless,” the judge said.

Frazier told the victim’s family that while he could not impose a life sentence on the charges Escenda was convicted of, he would recommend that Escenda not receive parole when he is eligible.

Along with the fatal stabbing, the men were convicted of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in two separate incidents that occurred in Pacific Beach and Chula Vista earlier that year. The pair pleaded guilty to stealing a bicycle from a couple in Pacific Beach on April 15 and stalking shoppers on April 29 at the Chula Vista Mall.

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Man sentenced 40 years to life in prison for stabbing a marine to death in the Gaslamp – Source link Man sentenced 40 years to life in prison for stabbing a marine to death in the Gaslamp –

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