A 20-year prison term was handed down April 22 to the woman who fatally shot an Alpine man in his own home by firing a gun that was concealed inside a boot during a party.
Deputy District Attorney Kristina Gill said Angela Marie Meza, 49, of Alpine, will have to serve 85 percent – 17 years – of her term before she can be paroled for killing Lorenzo Alejandro Rodriguez, 42.
Gill said she will have to serve 85 percent because the offense is a violent felony conviction and she also had a 2001 felony conviction for assault.
About 40 people showed up for the sentencing of Meza, who pleaded guilty March 22 to voluntary manslaughter in the May 16, 2017 slaying near the Viejas Indian Reservation. A murder charge was dropped.
Meza also admitted to personally using a gun which she hid in an UGG boot and fired once, killing Rodriguez, whom Gill said she did not know.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador imposed 12 years for manslaughter and added five years for Meza’s prior offense. He then added three years consecutively for using a gun in a homicide.
The earliest year Meza can get paroled is 2034, when she will turn 64 years old, as she received credit for 811 days she has spent in jail.
“Lorenzo was my heart,” said Sarah Hernandez, the mother of his only son, in a victim’s impact statement in court.
“He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. He had this smile that would melt a heart,” said Hernandez. “His heart was golden. Always helping the people that everyone else turned their back on.”
Hernandez reflected on “a phone call that would rock my entire life” when she learned Rodriguez had been killed. She said she had to break it to his son and her other son that “their Daddy was never coming home.”
“When he left the earth, he took a piece of my heart” and “a piece of both of my sons’ hearts,” she told the judge.
“So many questions that will never be answered,” said Hernandez, such as why Meza shot Rodriguez. “So much pain that has been brought to these children, our family, our friends.”
“The murder of Lorenzo has devastated our entire family,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, the victim’s father. “The loss of my son is beyond words. Missed opportunities…to say ‘I love you’ is forever gone.”
“I can’t call him, shake his hand,” said Ricky Rodriguez, his older brother.
Amador said it was believed that Meza had used some type of illegal drug before the shooting.
“Miss Meza, what happened was shocking,” said the judge to her. “It was so unnecessary.”
Meza, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and jail pants, wept as she briefly spoke. “I’m sorry for taking him away from you. I’m sorry,” she said.
About seven members of her family and friends also attended the sentencing. Meza was fined $6,224.
Her attorney, Angela Turner, said Meza “tearfully confessed” to sheriff’s deputies that she had shot Rodriguez. Turner said “the consequence of (her) actions weighed very heavily” on Meza.
During a 2-day preliminary hearing in March 2018, party guests testified Meza was in a chair holding an UGG boot, but no one thought anything of it until she fired a shot from it.
One guest said she saw smoke coming out of a hole in the boot. Rodriguez was quoted by guests as asking Meza why she shot him. He was hit in the torso and died at the scene.
Jamul man convicted of murdering wife
A former Jamul man was convicted April 24 of second-degree murder in the 2016 slaying of his wife.
The same jury acquitted Winnie Perry Whitby III, 49, of first-degree murder in the slaying of Melissa Estrada Whitby, 49, whose body was found Jan. 7, 2017, on Skyline Truck Trail in Jamul.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Paugh said Whitby faces a prison sentence of 16 years to life in prison. El Cajon Superior Court Judge Daniel Lamborn set sentencing for May 20.
Melissa Whitby was stabbed to death. Charges were filed against her husband in October 2018 after he had moved to Goldsboro, Maryland, and he was extradited here.
The murder trial lasted two weeks. Whitby remains in jail without bail.
Source: East County Californian