Jesse James Cole showed no emotion Wednesday as family members of two teenagers he fatally shot in June 2008 poured their hearts out at his sentencing.
Cole refused to address the family members to offer remorse for cutting short the promising lives of David Miramontes, 18, and Christopher Luscombe, 19, in a drive-by shooting at Bob Baskin Park. He sat expressionless in chains in a jury box across the courtroom, looking down or away from the emotional speakers.
After an hour of tear-filled testimony, District Judge David Barker on Wednesday sentenced Cole to 32 years to life in prison.
"There's no way to bring back anybody," Barker told Cole. "All we can do is remove you from society, and that's what we're going to do right now."
The sentence was a result of a plea agreement with prosecutors that allowed Cole to avoid the death penalty.
Cole, 24, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm out of a motor vehicle.
On June 8, 2008, Cole fired a handgun into a crowd at Baskin Park, on Oakey Boulevard near Rancho Drive, killing Miramontes and wounding Luscombe, who died 18 days later at University Medical Center.
The shooting happened after two groups of girls brawled at a nearby house party while celebrating a high school graduation.
Miramontes was regarded within his circle of friends as a gentle giant. He stood 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 230 pounds. His family suffered a second tragedy months later when his older, grief-stricken brother, Daniel Miramontes, died of a drug overdose.
Luscombe, known as "Superman," was a former Clark High School linebacker who dreamed of going into the NFL. He was the 2007 prom king and could bench press 400 pounds.
In court Wednesday, his family members wore T-shirts bearing the "Superman" emblem in his honor.
"My heart is broken, and it can never be repaired," his crying mother, Marie Passante, read from a letter she wrote to her son on what would have been his 21st birthday. "We won't be able to see that smile that brought everyone to their knees."
Luscombe's father, Robert Luscombe, testified that he still doesn't understand the reason behind the shooting of his son.
"A father couldn't ask for a better son," he said, telling Barker that his son had many friends who looked up to him.
The elder Luscombe broke down when he described being at his son's bedside the day he died at UMC. "I was holding his hand. It's hard," he said.
Luscombe's older sister, Nicole Luscombe, also overcome with emotion, said she was holding on to wonderful memories of the time she shared with her brother, such as picking him up from football practice.
"My brother was robbed of his chance to experience life," she testified. "We've been robbed of the chance to experience these things with him. He's gone forever, and our lives have been changed forever."
She said she feels the loss of her brother every day and knows that she can see him now only in her dreams.
"Chris was a good boy, a young man full of hope, with dreams for the future," she said. "Most people can't imagine touching others the way Christopher did."
Tabitha Fuller, Miramontes' sister, told Barker that she was very close to her brother and can't describe how much of a loss she is feeling.
"It's ripped my soul out," she said, breaking into tears. "I should have had more time with him."
Miramontes' mother, Brenda Miramontes, said her youngest son, "her baby," was "loved by so many people" and had many friends.
She testified how her oldest son, Daniel, had a hard time dealing with Miramontes' death and ultimately died of an overdose.
"I've watched my family crumble because of this," she told Barker in tears. "How are you supposed to continue and go on? It's hard."
Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@review journal.com or 702-380-8135.