Turlock Diaz was 14 when he was arrested for murder. Now, after his sentencing on Monday, he'll likely be in his 60s before he's even eligible for parole.
Diaz, a Turlock resident, and Daniel Pantoja, 23, of Riverbank were sentenced in Stanislaus County Superior Court to prison for their roles in a 2010 failed carjacking that left a 21-year-old man dead.
Both men had previously been convicted by a Stanislaus County jury of first-degree murder and attempted carjacking. A third defendant - Jai-Kari Phyall of Turlock - was acquitted of the murder charge lodged against him.
On Monday a Stanislaus County Superior Court judge sentenced Diaz to 52 years and six months to life in prison and Pantoja was sentenced to 27 years and six months to life, said Stanislaus County Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley.
California law stipulates 85 percent of a sentence has to be served in the case of violent felonies, like homicide.
Diaz and Pantoja were found guilty for the killing of 21-year-old Chaz Bettencourt during an attempted carjacking on Aug. 5, 2010, outside an AM/PM store in Riverbank.
On the night of Aug. 5, 2010, Bettencourt and his friend David Gomez went to the store to buy some soda. In the parking lot the two men were confronted by the trio in what the district attorney's office described as a carjacking that turned deadly.
Gomez testified that as they left the store, Diaz put a gun to his head and demanded cash and his car keys. Gomez said he backed away from Diaz and into the store and was asking the clerk to call 911 when he heard the gunshots.
The store's video surveillance shown to the jury collaborated Gomez's recollection of that night.
Bettencourt was shot twice in the chest at close range. Gomez said he ran to his friend and saw the three men running from the parking lot. Bettencourt was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The case was heard by two juries, with one deciding the fate for Diaz and Phyall and the other deliberating on Pantoja's case.
Phyall was the only one of the three defendants to take the stand and testify.
He testified Pantoja brought the gun and used it to rob an ice cream vendor earlier that night and wanted to rob two elderly women, but Diaz and Phyall objected.
Phyall said it was Diaz who fired the shots that ended Bettencourt's life and that he did so after Bettencourt threw his cash at Diaz.
During questioning from his defense attorney Frank Carson, Phyall stated he was unaware of what Diaz and Pantoja were planning for that night. He believed they were going to a party. He said Diaz threatened him with the gun to go along with the robbery.
Diaz's attorney, Martin Baker, argued his client was under the influence of Four-Loko, an alcohol and energy drink that adversely affected his impulse control.
Diaz was 14 and Phyall 15 at the time of the shooting, but both were tried as adults. Pantoja was 18 years old at the time.
Following the shooting Pantoja and Diaz fled to Redding, where they were taken into custody after spending five weeks on the lam.