Anthony Love Queen, 22, pleaded guilty to second degree. Hugh Ward, 67, was stabbed to death in March 2010, the day after Queen got out of prison for another crime.
Joya Ward is caught in the middle of her family tragedy. She lost her father and she knows it's her son's fault. But while she feels he deserves punishment, he also needs help.
When he graduated from Madera High School, Queen stood arm in arm with his proud grandfather. The standout athlete seemed to have a bright future ahead and later played football at College of the Sequoias in Visalia.
But court records show that within a year, Queen's future became cloudy as he started piling up convictions for petty theft and burglary. By March 2010, he was a repeat offender, getting out of the Corcoran State Prison to stay with Ward.
"He got released to the house and went to live with my dad," said Joya Ward. "So, next day my dad was found dead."
Madera County investigators found Hugh Ward's body in the trunk of his own car. Queen had reported his grandfather's disappearance and a burglary at the home, but investigators were suspicious from the start. They arrested him for murder the next day.
On Monday, a judge sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison. Family members never doubted Queen had killed his grandfather. But they've always said he suffers from a mental illness that's gone untreated despite his prior convictions.
Queen's mother worries her son will serve his time, and come out even worse. "All I want is Anthony to get some help," she said. "I'm not going to get my dad back. I'm losing my son, so he needs to get some mental help."
Prosecutors say Queen is getting exactly what he deserves, and if his mental health issues are real, doctors will tend to them. "There's always a mental component when they go to state prison," said Madera County district attorney Michael Keitz. "They do address mental issues in state prison as best that they can."
The only words Queen spoke Monday were to ask the judge when he's eligible for parole. That'll happen after 15 years At that point, the parole board will consider his psychological evaluations and his behavior in prison before deciding whether he should ever be set free.