Hanford Man Sentenced to Life in Prison

November 3, 2008 9:27:20 PM PST
Steven Martella was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole. Friends and family of both the victims and the suspect were emotional as the sentence was handed down.Steven Martella sat expressionless in court as a judge told him he would spend the rest of his life in prison. Martella pleaded "No Contest" to gunning down Ann Marie Bruce and boyfriend Terry Gaton as they slept in their Hanford home more than a year ago. Prosecutors say Martella had an argument with the couple several weeks before and admitted to the crimes.

Martella's attorney, Melina Benninghoff, says, "He's having a hard time with the entire process and the way the whole court process panned out was appropriate based on the evidence the District Attorney's office had."

Martella's father and other family members were present in court. Steven Martella was seen shaking his head as he heard emotional statements from family and friends of Terry Gaton and Ann Marie Bruce. In court, Brian Bruce, the father of his and Ann Marie's two young children said, "[Our children] are very devastated to this day. I don't know how long it's going to take for them to recover... Steven Martella took something away from them that they loved. They loved their mother. They loved Terry Gaton and his family."

Keith Fagundes, Prosecutor, says "He made clear that those kids will suffer their lifetimes without their mother and any punishment on him - whether it's life without parole or death penalty - whatever it could have been, it isn't going to change their pain and grief as well with Terry Gaton's family."

Monday's sentencing was the start of some closure for Terry Gaton and Ann Marie Bruce's family. Steven Martella's family hopes he will be put in a prison close by so they can visit him.

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