So said Judge C. Jeffrey Arnold when sentencing Erik Mota today.
He was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder, aggravated battery, false imprisonment and shooting/throwing a missile into a dwelling/structure/vehicle.
His ex-girlfriend was reticent about testifying against Mota during the trial, but was compelled to do so by the prosecution. Judge Arnold took considerable time to explain to the defendant and everyone else present that she was not responsible for deciding whether or not charges would be pursued. It was abundantly clear that the State Attorney is the only person who decides what charges will be filed. The judge elaborated further, explaining that if a material witness fails to appear when subpoenaed, he may issue a warrant for their arrest and they may be held in custody up to 179 days.
In today's sentencing hearing, the defendant and several of his family members addressed the Court. It sounded as if Mota had led a rather squeaky clean life until that fateful night when he hunted down his victims. He was described as being a good person, honest, willing to help others, generous, and having found God while in jail.
Judge Arnold expressed hope that Mr. Mota is the changed man that he and his family members asserted he is, but that there are consequences to one's actions. He then sentenced the defendant to LIFE in the Department of Corrections + 30 years (to be served consecutively) + 15 years (to be served concurrently) + 5 more (concurrent).
The judge also assessed court costs and restitution (totaling $833) to be collected. He further explained that as the collections judge, he has the power to collect from an inmate's canteen account while they are incarcerated. Judge Arnold mentioned that he has obtained several thousands of dollars in this manner and advised Mr. Mota to come up with the money in order to avoid a similar fate.
Judge Arnold was respectful to all parties in the courtroom, answered several questions from the defendant, explained his appeal rights in greater detail than I've witnessed before, and expressed his greatest concern for Mota's son, who will grow up without having his father be a part of his daily life.
As the judge so eloquently stated, "Everyone is a victim here."