Crime

July 30, 2014

Sentencing postponed for Merced men convicted in deadly, botched robbery in Modesto

A sentencing hearing on Wednesday was postponed for two Merced men convicted of murder in the shooting of a store clerk killed during an attempted robbery in Modesto.

A sentencing hearing on Wednesday was postponed for two Merced men convicted of murder in the shooting of a store clerk killed during an attempted robbery in Modesto.

Mark Burgess and Ernesto Morales Jr. have agreed to plea deals to avoid trial. They were both convicted for the death of 28-year-old Harinder Sanghera.

The sentencing hearing was postponed until Aug. 14, because Sanghera’s family was not able to attend Wednesday’s hearing. The store clerk’s family will have an opportunity to speak in court about the impact of his death before the defendants are formally sentenced.

Sanghera was gunned down Dec. 4, 2009, while working at the Gas N Shop Market in the 800 block of South Ninth Street.

Burgess, 27, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and agreed with prosecutors to a sentence of 28 years to life in prison.

Morales, 25, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder under an agreement to testify against Burgess had his case gone trial. Morales will be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

In exchange for their pleas, prosecutors dropped an attempted robbery charge against each defendant.

Had they been convicted of all charges by a jury, the defendants would’ve faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Both defendants remain in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.

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