A homeless man was sentenced today to 26 years to life in state prison for the beating murder of another transient with a piece of wood.
A jury on Feb. 13 convicted Sergio Camacho Gonzalez, 38, of murdering Andrew Petrusiak and found true a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.
Gonzalez got into argument with Petrusiak, 56, of Portland, Oregon, in a Fullerton liquor store on Sept. 27, 2010, with Gonzalez accusing the man who also went by Andrew Pieatrucat of stealing his wallet. Both parted ways, with Petrusiak heading to a homeless campsite near an industrial area off Commonwealth in Fullerton. Around 8:30 that night, Gonzalez showed up with a piece of wood in his hand, beat the back of Petrusiak's head and fled. Another camper later showed up and discovered the dead man's body.
Gonzalez, who was known to Fullerton Police, was suspected early on, partly due to video-surveillance images that captured him entering the campsite and leaving four minutes later that night. But cops had a hard time finding him because he had no known address and was trying to not be found. An anonymous tip finally led to Gonzalez in Anaheim on March 23, 2011, when he was arrested.
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Sperry Tavoularis of the Orange County Alternate Defender's Office said her client committed "a crime under the dulled senses of alcohol," City News Service reports. Gonzalez--who started drinking in the third grade, when he also dropped out of school--believed Petrusiak had stolen his wallet containing $600 that fateful night, causing him to get kicked out of his apartment and becoming homeless, Tavoularis said.
But Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy countered it may never be known if the dead man stole the wallet. What is known, the veteran prosecutor said, was he suffered a "senseless and brutal'' murder.
The jury agreed, and Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley today handed down the maximum punishment in what he characterized as a "sad case."