SANTA ANA — A 21-year-old man who was an accomplice in the shooting death of an Orange movie theater security guard was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison.
Jesse Pena became the third and last person to be sentenced in the Feb. 19, 1994, slaying of Dagoberto R. Carrero.
Carrero, 23, was working his last shift as a security guard at the Century City Centre Theater when he was shot twice in the face and back. A former Marine and Gulf War veteran, Carrero had made plans to travel to Texas the next day for Air National Guard training.
Pena was a passenger in the getaway car that carried Jerry Lee Alonzo Jr., who was convicted as the shooter last June and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Pena was convicted of murder last December. Rafael A. Maldonado also was convicted of murder last November for driving the getaway car.
Prosecutors said Alonzo had watched a movie earlier that night and, angry over a previous encounter with Carrero, returned to the theater to kill him.
Authorities said Alonzo summoned his friends for a ride home after the shooting by paging them, using the digits "187," the state Penal Code section number that denotes homicide.
Pena apologized for his role in the crime, saying he never wanted to see anyone get hurt.
"I agree it was a senseless crime," he said. "I'm ashamed for being associated with it."
His attorneys contended the young man, who had no previous record, tried to talk Alonzo out of the shooting, and had repeatedly asked to go home.
"Nothing Jesse Pena did that night caused the crime," Deputy Public Defender Leonard Gumlia said.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Lewis Rosenblum said Pena could have done something to stop the killing, and made the choice to stick with his friends.
Judge Kathleen E. O'Leary agreed that Pena was the least involved of the three defendants, but that he made a "value choice" with his participation in the crime.
The victim's relatives said they hoped a stiff sentence would deter other acts of "willful slaughter."