Nearly a year after being found guilty of the murder of a 20-year-old man during a series of home invasions that were committed in July 2017, Jesus Andres Gonzalez was finally sentenced in Yuma County Superior Court.
Appearing before Superior Court Judge David Haws on Tuesday afternoon, Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of Leondre Richards, which happened while Gonzalez and four others committed three home invasions looking for drugs and money.
Gonzalez, at the conclusion of a five-week trial that ended in March 2020, was also convicted of three counts of burglary, six counts of aggravated assault, and one count of kidnapping.
The sentences he received in those convictions are to run currently with the life sentence. Gonzalez must serve at least 25 years of the life sentence before he is eligible for parole.
The five men and seven women who served on the jury also determined that 10 of the 12 offenses were dangerous in nature – meaning that they involved the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.
All dangerous offenses require mandatory prison time, regardless of whether or not they are a person’s first ever conviction. They also all carry enhanced prison time as opposed to non-dangerous offenses.
Also charged in the case were Daniel Joseph Castillo, Daniel Contreras, Juan Pablo Torres and Kerein Patrick Hamilton.
Attorneys Megan Gallagher and James Eustace of the Yuma County Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case. Gonzalez was represented by attorney Michael Donovan.
The first home invasion occurred at a house on 20th Avenue, but the suspects, two of whom were armed, fled the scene when the resident pulled his own gun in self-defense.
At the second home, which was on 9th Avenue, the suspects allegedly tied up the resident and pistol whipped him before leaving empty-handed.
In the third home invasion, Yuma police responded to a report of a disturbance in the 1600 block of West 8th Street, where officers located two victims with gunshot wounds.
The male victim, now known to be Richards, was pronounced dead at the scene. A female victim, who is now known to be Richards’ mother, was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where she was then flown to Phoenix for further treatment.
Torres, who was the driver and provided the guns that were used, was sentenced to 16 years in prison with credit for 597 days already served in February 2019. He was also ordered to pay more than $5,500 in restitution jointly with his co-defendants. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea agreement in January 20.
Hamilton, who also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea agreement, was sentenced on March 11, 2019, to 15 years in prison with credit for 608 days previously served. He was also ordered to pay more than $5,500 in restitution jointly with his co-defendants.
Castillo, who was represented by attorney Paul Abbate, was sentenced to eight years in prison in April of 2020 on a felony charge of burglary for his role in the crimes. He pleaded guilty to the offense in a plea agreement with prosecutors in June 2018.