Gardener and potential Machete II stand-in Luis Rosales Rivera was sentenced today to 26 years to life in state prison for murdering his sleeping roommate not with a machete but a sledgehammer.
A Santa Ana jury in October had found the Stanton 59-year-old guilty of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon. The judge today heard a victim impact statement from the dead 63-year-old victim's niece.
She said her uncle, Miguel Delacruz, was a loving and hard-working man, and that Rivera showed no remorse in killing him, according to an Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) statement. The niece asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence so her family could get justice for her uncle.
Rivera had lived in Stanton home's converted garage with Delacruz and another roommate. Around 9 p.m. on March 26, 2008, Rivera returned home after a night of pizza and beer with friends as his roommates slept. He then went to Delacruz's bed, disfigured and killed the man by hitting him at least three times in the head with a 4-pound sledgehammer and fled.
The other roommate awoke from the noise and informed the homeowner in the main house. The homeowner told the roommate to leave before dragging the body to an alley, where it was discovered shortly after midnight.
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Rivera's defense attorney did not deny his client wielded the sledgehammer but said the small-framed dead man was a tyrant who belittled, peed on and once tried to stab Rivera. The OCDA statement noted that Delacruz made Rivera clean the bathroom, aired disparaging comments about Rivera's mother and regulated when Rivera could watch television.
But it did not help Rivera's case that, after doing the deed, he went to a nightclub where he drank and danced until closing.