From Andy Furillo:
The judge choked back tears and burly bailiffs bit their lips today in an emotion-wracked sentencing where a Sacramento street gang member was sent to prison for the rest of his life with no chance of parole for shooting and killing an innocent 15-year-old kid last year.
"I hope that in some way justice here gives you some comfort for the loss you suffered," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly, his eyes red and his voice cracking, told the family of Abel Alonso.
More than 30 relatives crowded into the courtroom and another 10 waited outside during the sentencing hearing. Many wore T-shirts with a photo of the slain teenager wearing headphones. A message over the photo read, "Te extranamos," Spanish for "We miss you."
Steven Anthony Duran, a 24-year-old Norteno gang member, chased down a car driven by Alonso's older brother and then shot the victim dead June 8, 2007, in a drug-haze of violence.
Duran had been ingesting methamphetamine and Ecstasy all night long when he came across the Alonso brothers, who were driving to school at 8 o'clock in the morning. They were in a blue car and Duran's lawyer said his client believed they were members of a rival gang that had shot up his mother's house in 2004.
Prosecutors said the Alonsos had nothing to do with the shooting.
"My son was full of life, he was a happy kid," the slain boy's mother, Maria Alonso, said at the sentencing hearing. "He loved life. Since June 8, 2007, it's been a living hell. My son did not deserve this ugly way to die. He was a kid."
Relatives of the victim wept during a 10-minute video that showed a boy growing up. Played to Spanish language music, it showed Abel Alonso from his days as an elementary school student to his days as a teenager.
In his brief comments to the court, Duran said he was sorry.
"I apologize to the victim's family for their loss and my family for the loss of me, because I'm going to be gone for the rest of my life," he said.
Besides the life term with no chance of parole, Connelly also sentenced Duran to two additional life terms for the attempted murder of Abel Alonso's brother, Bernardo, and the use of a gun, plus an additional 20 years for discharging the gun and striking his victim.