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Five men convicted in MS-13 gang-related killings in Santa Maria receive life sentences

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Posted at 6:25 PM, May 16, 2022

The five MS-13 gang members convicted of multiple counts of murder in the Santa Maria area have all received life sentences, without the possibility of parole.

On Monday, the loved ones of the victims gathered at the County of Santa Barbara Superior Court in Santa Maria where they shared words of remembrance, tears and heartbreak.

Prior to the hearing, which went on for much of the day, the families of the victims stood together in front of the courthouse, waving posters and calling for justice for their loved ones who lost their lives.

One after another, prosecuting attorney Ann Bramsen shared videos and photos of the victims, read letters from family members who couldn't be there in person and brought forth loved ones to share their stories and hopes for a maximum sentence.

"I am afraid that they will continue to kill and do harm," said Rebekah Spicugla, mother of victim Oscar Joaquin, 17. "It is my hope that the justice system will find a way to ensure that doesn't happen."

In other statements from court, some, but not all, families admitted they are at a place in their lives where they feel ready to forgive the defendants.

"May God forgive you because my family does not forgive you yet," said the sister of victim Javier Murillo-Sanchez.

Bramsen also shared a letter written by Eric Martinez, a survivor of a drive-by shooting back in September 2015, saying his life has been permanently impacted since that evening. She says Martinez spent months in the hospital after the shooting and had to have his leg amputated, leaving him unable to resume work.

Reading from Martinez's letter, Bramsen said, "I worked in agriculture all my life. I've applied to many farms but once they see I have a prosthetic they don't hire me."

The trial for several additional MS-13 defendants accused of being involved in a series of shootings between 2013 and 2016 is still underway.