Bizarre outburst during Fresno killer's sentencing

December 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A convicted killer's dramatic courtroom outburst brought out several deputies and a taser threat, but it didn't keep the judge from sending him to prison for life.

A jury convicted 35-year-old Curtis Travis of murder two months ago, believing he was the ringleader in a home invasion robbery and the driver in a hit-and-run crash in a vehicle stolen during that initial robbery.

Travis was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole for his crime. But he wasn't ready to head off to prison without getting in some last, angry words.

"Your Honor, I have something to tell you before we even start," Curtis Travis said. "I plead incompetent. Insanity."

The convicted killer put the courtroom on alert right away that this would not be a simple sentencing. DNA evidence and witness testimony led a jury to convict Travis of holding up a Northwest Fresno family and stealing their vehicle.

Travis was driving through the fog when he crashed into 50-year-old Heliodoro Ruvalcaba, killed him, and ran away from the scene. But Travis tried to stop Judge Kent Hamlin from handing down his punishment.

"I'm pleading insanity mother ****er," he screamed.

"You do not control these proceedings," the judge responded.

"**** you," yelled Travis. "**** them. It's bull****. Sending me for life for something I didn't ****ing do."

Travis' family tried to silence him, but they couldn't, and soon he directed his venom at his attorney.

"Nah, that's bull****," he screamed. "This mother****er set me up, gave me to the (district attorney.) He allowed them to wash me up and everything. That's why the DA's over there smiling like a ****ing smart ***. I'll speak my mind."

"Please do," said Judge Hamlin.

The outburst lasted for most of ten minutes before a deputy spun his chair around, told him to shut up and pulled a taser on him.

Finally then, Ruvalcaba's family got their chance to speak, first through a victim's advocate, then in their own voices.

"On Jan. 5, 2011, life kept going for everyone else, but not for the Ruvalcaba family and their friends," said victims' advocate Katherine Heinen on behalf of Heliodoro Ruvalcaba's wife, Isabel.

"My brother always lived his life like a hero," said Anita Ruvalcaba. "He was always helping people. He was just an outstanding individual."

Travis did eventually get life in prison without parole.


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