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April 1, 2014

Man sentenced to life for slaying during botched Modesto robbery

Randeep Singh had been in the United States for only three months when Ronnie Javier Cavazos shot and killed him early on Feb. 16, 2007, during a botched store robbery. Tuesday, after hearing of the heartbreak of the victim’s family, Cavazos was sentenced to life in prison.

Randeep Singh had been in the United States for only three months and working at his uncle’s convenience store for a week when he encountered Ronnie Javier Cavazos in the early morning hours of Feb. 16, 2007. Cavazos shot and killed Singh during a botched robbery.

Tuesday, during Cavazos’ sentencing hearing, Singh’s family members told Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen of their loss.

In a statement read by prosecutor Tom Brennan, Singh’s mother, Jeetinder Kaur, told of raising her son after a mob killed her husband in India. Randeep Singh left for Germany to seek work when he was 17 years old. His mother later came to the United States, where Randeep Singh joined her in November 2006.

They would be together for three months and 12 days before Randeep Singh was killed.

“He told me, ‘Mom, now you don’t need to work,’ ” Jeetinder Kaur wrote. “He got three paychecks and he gave me all of them.”

After the statements – and after denying defense attorney Martha Carlton-Magana’s motion for a new trial – Steffen sentenced Cavazos, now 30, to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the slaying. He also sentenced Cavazos to 31 years on charges from a separate case, including kidnapping – from a carjacking – and attempted robbery.

Cavazos, wearing glasses and a red and white jail jumpsuit, stared ahead during the hearing. He spoke only to say, “Yes, sir,” to Steffen twice when the judge asked if he understood the appeal process. He nodded to supporters in the courtroom as he entered and exited.

According to authorities, Cavazos and two accomplices, brothers Paul Gonzalez and David Gonzalez, entered the QuikStop market and gas station in the 4200 block of Sisk Road at 1:30 a.m. Feb. 16, 2007. Two of them, wearing masks similar to the one worn by the villain in the horror movie “Scream,” entered the market. Surveillance video shows Randeep Singh swinging a broom at the robbers to force them out of the store.

A jury convicted Cavazos last year. The Gonzalez brothers received plea deals in exchange for their testimony against Cavazos, their cousin. They testified that Cavazos shot Singh.

The Gonzalez brothers initially were charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to carjacking and attempted robbery as part of their plea agreement.

In the statement Brennan read, Singh’s family spoke of their heartbreak since his death.

“I was living for Randeep,” his mother wrote. “Why should I live now?”

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