Atwater man receives life sentence for 2013 murders
Jose Luis Botello gave the families of two people he killed a wry smirk as he walked out a Merced County courtroom Friday with consecutive life sentences.
“Punk, you kill my daughter and you smile,” screamed Desiree Parreira, the mother of one of his victims, as she pounded the back of the chair in front of her. “You’re a coward.”
Botello, 22, was sentenced Friday by Ronald W. Hansen, a retired Merced County judge, to the maximum of two life sentences without parole to be served consecutively for gunning down Parreira’s 16-year-old daughter, Samantha Parreira, and 19-year-old Matthew Fisher on March 30, 2013, in the backyard of a rural home near Atwater, investigators said.
Because Botello was 17 years old at the time of the slaying, he will be eligible for a parole hearing after 25 years, in accordance with state law.
A 12-member jury panel delivered guilty verdicts of first-degree murder for both victims on Nov. 21, 2017.
State Deputy Attorney General Cliff Zall on Friday asked Hansen to consider in his sentencing that while the shooting of Fisher was not only gang-related, it was an “execution” that Botello appeared to later brag about in a rap video.
Botello had an “utter disregard for human life” as he shot Samantha Parreira, who wasn’t a target, Zall said.
Botello’s attorney, Barbara O’Neill, asked Hansen to use his discretion and note that Botello was technically a minor at the time of the shooting.
Botello, O’Neill said, also wasn’t allowed to complete his GED while in segregated quarters in an adult jail facility, a claim Hansen said he would keep in mind.
In his sentencing, Hansen noted the attorneys’ comments and said the shootings were “callous” and “calculated.”
“I agree (with prosecutors) that this was an execution,” Hansen said.
Hansen also said Botello’s rap video compounded how “cold” the killings were.
During Botello’s sentencing Friday, Fisher’s mother and father, and Parreira, gave impact statements urging Hansen to give him the maximum sentence.
As each started to speak, Botello turned in his chair to look at them and smiled, at times chuckling as each parent described the pain of their loss.
“I don’t understand all this,” Matthew Fisher’s father, Robert Fisher, said. “Where did all the hate come from?”
Robert Fisher said he hoped he could find the strength to eventually forgive Botello for killing his son.
Parreira, however, said she could never forgive Botello, with his “smile” and “smugness” throughout the sentencing enraging her.
To Parreira, Botello’s sentence was “half justice” for her daughter, noting that Botello will still be allowed to live and visit family while she won’t see her daughter again.
Parreira told news reporters after the sentencing that she still didn’t feel any closure.
Botello didn’t give a statement at the sentencing.
“We believe it was a just sentence,” Zall said.
O’Neill, Botello’s attorney declined to comment on the sentencing.
Jose M. Carballido, Botello’s 22-year-old codefendant in the case, on Oct. 30, 2017, changed his plea to no contest to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to Merced County court records.
Carballido also admitted to being a gang member during his plea.
During the night of the shooting, the night before Easter in 2013, a backyard party of friends and family swelled to a larger party of more than 100 people before gang violence erupted, according to Merced County sheriff’s detectives’ reports.
According to investigators, Botello, a well-known Atwater street gang member, opened fire at Fisher, whom was reportedly connected to a rival gang.
Parreira was seated on Fisher’s lap when Botello fired, according to reports. Many at the party, which was mostly attended by high school students, believed the shots were fireworks. But they quickly realized what was happening and the party turned to chaos.
Dozens of people scattered, some hiding behind cars, climbing fences and running for cover in a nearby orchard. Several people crashed into each other as they tried to flee in their cars.
In front of the house, teenagers climbed into cars and tried running away as more bullets were fired, killing 18-year-old Bernabed Hernandez-Canela. Deputies treated Hernandez-Canela’s death separately from Fisher and Parreira’s deaths.
In that case, Ethan Morse, son of Merced District Attorney Larry Morse II, in July 2014 was accused of being the getaway driver involved with Hernandez-Canela’s death. The case was turned over to the California Attorney General’s Office.
Both Ethan Morse and Jacob Tellez, who was accused of being the shooter, were found innocent of all charges by Hansen in November 2014.
Ethan Morse has filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office and several detectives claiming they lied about evidence that he believes pointed to other suspects who were never charged.
That lawsuit is scheduled for a hearing in federal court next year.