Parlier man apologizes for killing sister

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Jesus Nunez*/, 38, shot his older sister in March 2011. Last month, a jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter.

Nunez read an apology letter in court Friday, and he cried through most of it, but it did him no good. Judge John Vogt even said he believed Nunez was sincerely sorry. But he also said the crime was an accumulation of ridiculous actions by Nunez that led to an avoidable tragedy.

A crowd of family members gathered on the scene last March. Nearly a dozen in all, they witnessed a brother kill his own sister, a mother dying in her son's arms.

"No kid should have that image burned into their head," said Florentino Alvarez, Jr., whose mother, Leticia Casas was the victim. "Nobody should have that image of their mom fighting for her life while she has a bullet wound to her face."

Police arrested Nunez for murder shortly after the death of Casas. Prosecutors had reduced the charge to involuntary manslaughter by the time Nunez went to trial. They said he released two safeties on a gun he shouldn't have even been carrying because of previous felony convictions.

Nunez admitted to firing the weapon, but claimed it was an accident as he tried to scare off barking dogs in his sister's yard. At his sentencing, he tearfully acknowledged the pain he caused his family and himself.

"But no matter how sorry I am for my actions, the loss is still overwhelming," he said. "The pain is still there."

Nunez said he made a mistake he'll have to live with for the rest of his life -- a different kind of sentence than the courts could ever hand down. He said he only hoped the guilty verdict wouldn't follow him to the afterlife.

"I apologize with every ounce of myself," Nunez said. "I just pray that one day I will be forgiven."

Nunez's mother wrote a letter to the judge saying she has forgiven her son for killing her daughter. But the judge was not as forgiving. He gave Nunez the maximum sentence of 15 years.

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