This was the shocking scene two years ago when Victor Cedano was shot to death in front of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Northwest Fresno. He was 29 years old.
The man who killed him, Manuel George Mancilla was convicted of First Degree Murder, by a jury in March. Today (Sept. 22) Judge Wayne Ellis gave Mancilla the maximum sentence. 50 years to life. Cedano's family was pleased. Nick Vasquez, Cedano's brother-in-law said; "We think that justice was served, this is exactly what we were hoping for. We're just glad it's over."
But, Mancilla's family thought the sentence was too harsh. Outside the courtroom his brother, Jason Mancilla said; "I don't think he deserved a life sentence. They tried to say it was a set up pre-meditated, I don't believe that."
Mancilla's family, and attorney Eric Schweitzer maintain the killing was closer to self-defense.
"The circumstances suggest it was in no way a first degree murder." Schweitzer said.
On the day of the killing Mancilla was at the restaurant with his two children. As he was leaving the restaurant with them he saw their mother, his former girlfriend, in the car with Cedano. They worked together in a nearby store.
Surveillance video captured Mancilla blocking Cedano's car with his SUV. A fight that followed cannot be seen. But Mancilla is seen walking back toward the restaurant, with a gun, he appears to be loading. He then goes back to his SUV and shoots Cedano. Mancilla's children and their mother witnessed the killing. Prosecutor Steve Wright says that video was the key. "The video spoke for itself, the jury was able to watch it, the judge obviously saw it in trial, and I think a picture is worth a thousand words."
Mancilla's attorneys argued that it what was not seen just off camera that mattered. Mancilla claims he went back to his vehicle, then Cedano attacked him, so he reached for his gun and fired in self defense. The defense claims the jury received inadequate instructions on the circumstances required to find someone guilty of first degree murder and they plan to file an appeal.