A judge on Monday sentenced a 24-year-old man to 17 years to life in prison for beating to death his 65-year-old father during a fight at their Waterford home nearly three years ago.
A jury Aug. 31 found Jose Eusebio Corona guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his father, Tomas Botello Corona. The jurors also convicted Corona of battery causing serious bodily injury.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge John Freeland sentenced Corona to 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge and two years in prison for the battery charge. The judge said Corona will be on parole for the rest of his life, if he qualifies for parole.
Saul Garcia, Corona's defense attorney, asked for the sentences to run concurrently, which would mean Corona would be eligible for parole in 15 years. Garcia told the judge the defendant's mother was asking for the same because her son is mentally ill.
Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Matzger opposed a concurrent sentence, arguing that the defendant testified "that he knew what he was doing was wrong."
The prosecutor told the judge that Corona has an extensive juvenile criminal record that includes violence and has shown no signs of reform after stints in Juvenile Hall.
The judge agreed with the defense attorney that Corona appeared to have suffered some type of mental breakdown, but that didn't absolve him of the crimes. Freeland ruled that the sentences will run consecutively.
Corona sat next to his attorney during Monday's hearing, wearing a red and white jail inmate jumpsuit and shackles on his wrists and ankles. He turned to look into the courtroom audience several times as the attorneys and the judge discussed his sentence.
At one point, Corona tilted his head backward to scratch an itch on the back of his head with his chair. The defendant did not appear to be entirely aware of what was happening.
When the judge told him he would have to remain on parole for the rest of his life, Corona responded, "I was sentenced to life right now?"
It's unclear what led to the dispute between Corona and his father Jan. 11, 2010. Prosecutors said investigators learned that Corona became angry with his father for some reason.
Sheriff's officials have said the fight began about 6:30 p.m. in the front portion of their home in the 500 block of Stein Way. It ended minutes later.
Deputies arrived and found the father lying unconscious in the driveway and Corona detained by neighbors across the street.
Prosecutors said investigators found the father's DNA on the flat part of a garden hoe blade, but the defendant never admitted to using it as a weapon. Corona testified that he hit, kicked and stomped on his father in the kitchen and the driveway.
The father suffered a broken nose, along with hemorrhaging on the top and back of his head and on his left and right temples, according to prosecutors. The cause of death was blunt force injuries.
Corona's mother was in a back room of the home when she heard the commotion and ran outside to ask neighbors to call 911, according to sheriff's officials. The two men started fighting before she figured out what was going on.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.