A man dubbed "Night Owl" by the authorities was sentenced to 58 years to life in prison Friday, the maximum term Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira could hand down to a former gang member who shot and killed a stranger because he wore red sweatpants.
As she imposed the sentence, the judge stressed the senselessness of the shooting death of Reuben "Joey" Neuman, who was targeted as he walked his bicycle on P Street in Newman on July 10, 2004.
Cesar Melgoza Perez, 21, and six other men, all suspected Sureño gang members, were heading to a party when they spotted Neuman and decided to pick a fight with a suspected rival Norteño. The men surrounded Neuman, punching and kicking him until he lay lifeless in a gutter.
As Silveria noted, Perez pulled a gun, firing seven times, while his buddies ran back to their cars. The judge said Perez, who was apprehended in Mexico years after the shooting, deserves the stiffest possible punishment because he had a blood lust that could not be satisfied with a mere beating.
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"You will have a very long time to think about what kind of a man does something like this," Silveira said.