Man gets life in prison for Mendota double murder

FRESNO, Calif.

Rene Leon, 22, and his brother, 15 year old Daniel died when they were shot at a family party in Mendota last September.

Yobanni Bonilla showed no emotion Thursday morning, even as the victim's family members unleashed some strong feelings.

The victim's cousin, Elizabeth Espinoza said, "I myself wanted him to burn in hell. He is no one. He is only going to cost taxpayers money. And for me he is better off for the death penalty. That's what I wanted."

The victim's brother, Alfredo Leon said, "I hope he rots in hell as well and I hope he never sees sunlight ever again. Thank you."

It's unlikely the El Salvador native will ever be a free man. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Outside court, the victim's brother says his family has endured pain that never leaves them. Not only that, much of the family witnessed Rene and Daniel Leon's death.

Alfredo said, "Seeing both of their brothers laying there on the ground, dead. And knowing what this person has done to them, it's a real harsh pain."

Court records show Bonilla went over to the family's home looking for trouble. Prosecutors say he was angry after he was punched in the mouth at a swap meet days earlier. But, he unloaded his frustration on the wrong people since the Leon brothers were not involved in that fight.

A day after the trial began, Bonilla pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say once proceedings began, he realized what he was up against.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Wright said, "The evidence was coming in, the evidence was being presented and it was very good for the prosecution. I think he realized, he didn't have a chance."

Alfredo Leon says he tries to honor his brothers by making the most of life that he can. He's attending college as a tribute to them. Even though the stiff sentence didn't seem to faze Bonilla, Alfredo says one day, it will.

"I believe he was just playing hard and that's just how he is for now," Alfredo said. "But I know deep inside, when he's behind bars, there's gonna be nights where he's going to cry. Regret what he has done."

Even the judge in the case noted Bonilla's lack of obvious emotion when he was sentenced. Judge Jonathan Conklin told him his sentence will give him time to reflect on his actions.

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