Man gets 4 life sentences for market murder

June 18, 2009 1:49:32 PM PDT
Windsor resident Javier Pena was sentenced this morning to four life terms in prison for a November 2007 crime spree in which a market manager was killed and three other men were shot, one of them left paralyzed for life.

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Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez told Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Gnoss that Pena, 39, callously shot the victims in cold blood.

Pena pleaded guilty in February to 12 felony counts including murder during a robbery, attempted murder, robbery, assault and burglary, and firing a gun at an inhabited dwelling, and to dozens of enhancements, to avoid the death penalty.

"At least Mr. Pena admitted guilt and agreed to take his punishment and will spend the rest of his life in prison. Now it's about the victims and the impact of these crimes on their lives," Gomez told Gnoss.

Phurpa Sherpa, who was shot in the leg during a robbery at the Fast and Easy Market in Larkfield on Nov. 10, 2007, told Gnoss he has become dependent on his friends and family for small things, that he still has pain in his leg and that he isn't as physically active as he was before.

Sherpa is one of the more fortunate victims. Gurdip Singh, 56, was fatally shot during a robbery at Bill's Market in Santa Rosa on Nov. 12, 2007. Pena also shot Singh's son, Sarbjeet, 27, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Pena, wearing gloves and a mask, was on his way out the door of the market after the robbery when he pointed his gun at Gurdip Singh and shot him in the chest, Gomez said.

"He (Singh) couldn't identify Mr. Pena but Mr. Pena shot him in cold blood," Gomez said.

Sarbjeet Singh was trying to get out the back door when he was shot, Gomez said.

Manoj Shresthe, 42, was shot outside his Santa Rosa residence as he arrived home from work on Nov. 13, 2007.

He told the judge Pena came out of the open garage and demanded money. When he told Pena he didn't have any, Pena checked the inside of his car and took three rolls of quarters, then shot him three times.

Shresthe said his mother and father became ill after the shooting and that his father died in March 2008 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

"Can he give me back my father and mother? If this man is allowed to live, no one person can freely live on this planet," Shresthe said.

Deputy Public Defender Charles Ogulnik said he had no words for the tragedies that occurred but that Pena is truly sorry.

He said, however, the community is entitled to some explanation then told the court Pena suffered "the wrath of methamphetamine and the destructive effect of the drug on his personality."

Pena told him he wished he had abused marijuana instead because it "leads to a more peaceful nature," Ogulnik said.

After the sentencing hearing, Arcadio Pena said his brother was a good person with a big heart and was the life of the party when not on drugs.

"One year he played Santa Claus and had everyone cracking up," he said.

Pena's personality changed a few months after he got out of prison around 2006, Arcadio Pena said.

"He started hanging with the wrong ones and was a more serious person. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Arcadio Pena said.

Pena has prior convictions for robbery, grand theft, weapons, and assault since 1989. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2002 for grand theft.

Gnoss sentenced Pena to 59 years in prison, life without parole for murder during the commission of a robbery, three life terms with the possibility of parole for the attempted murders, and 100 years to life on the other charges and enhancements. Those included use of a gun, discharge of a gun and having prior felony convictions.

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