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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | SIMI VALLEY

Man Gets 44 Years to Life in Fatal Shooting

May 27, 1999|TRACY WILSON

A 26-year-old Simi Valley man was sentenced to 44 years to life in state prison Wednesday for fatally shooting a machinist after a bar brawl in September.

Thomas Blanks was convicted in April of gunning down John Regos, 25, in front of a midtown gas station.

A Ventura County judge sentenced Blanks during a hearing in Superior Court.

The murder occurred during a fight that was the result of an earlier confrontation at a Simi Valley sports bar. Some men at the bar had shouted derogatory remarks at Regos and an altercation ensued, police said.

After exchanging blows, Regos walked with his girlfriend across the street to a gas station, where he again encountered the men, including Blanks.

Regos and Blanks swung at each other. Then Blanks pulled out a small handgun and fired, police said. Regos died after being shot once in the chest.

Blanks was arrested by Simi Valley police as his car was seen pulling away from the scene. Officers said they found a handgun in the vehicle.

The jury deliberated for about a day before returning a guilty verdict.

In addition to murder, the panel found that Blanks used a firearm during the commission of a murder, an enhancement that carries a 10-year prison term.

The jury also convicted Blanks for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Blanks has five criminal convictions on his record in Ventura County, including felony auto theft.

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