Tulare County judge sentences Visalia man to 25 years to life for murder of stepson

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Before sentencing him, Presiding Judge Gary Paden told Miguel Pacheco that he is a bad man, who deserves to go to prison for the rest of his life. (KFSN)

Before sentencing him, Presiding Judge Gary Paden told Miguel Pacheco that he is a bad man, who deserves to go to prison for the rest of his life. He said Pacheco has blamed everyone but himself, including his lawyer, for the position he's in.

In November, a jury found Pacheco guilty of first degree murder for strangling his stepson, 14-year-old Damiean or Luke Gulley, to death at their Visalia home.

"It's a huge relief to me, that he's been found guilty, and not only that, (but) the amount of time he's been given, keeps my little ones safe," said Luke's mother Andrea Villegas, who has two other children.

Pacheco will be sent to state prison for 25 years to life.

Wednesday wrapped up a case that started in the fall of 2013, when Luke went missing. After an intensive search, Luke's body was found a few days later in Sequoia National Park by an employee who was walking their dog.

Pacheco later admitted to killing his stepson, and was arrested.

Judge Paden said it was evident that Pacheco tried to control Luke, but couldn't, so killed him. Family members said the 35-year-old wanted Luke out of the picture, after he and Luke's mother Andrea had two children of their own.

"If anything, he tried to make it look like Luke was the bad character, and truly it was always Mr. Pacheco that was the bad character," said Katie Matthews, Luke's great aunt.

"I can't lose another kid," Villegas said. "I can't do anything else for Luke anymore, I've done everything that I can, nothing else I do is going to change that, but what I can do now is try and keep my other kids safe from this man."

Luke's family and friends do not believe Pacheco has shown any remorse, but rather indifference about the death of Luke, whose potential for a fulfilling life was taken away.

"If a person took responsibility and fully admitted what their intent was and showed remorse, who knows, perhaps a parole board at some point in the future might take that into consideration," said Tulare County Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos.

Pacheco will be able to see a parole board in 25 years.
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