James Dean gets 61 years to life in prison for killing girlfriend's ex-husband

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- James Dean now faces a sentence of 61 years in prison for killing his girlfriend's former husband during a child custody dispute at a house near Fresno City College in July 2017.

The dispute didn't even involve Dean, but police say he settled the problem and was arrested shortly after.

"Although James Dean is getting sentenced to all these years in prison, it still doesn't feel like enough for us," said Rebecca Velasco, the victim's cousin.

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During the Thursday hearing, many described Jay Velasco as a hardworking, nonviolent man. To those closest to him say he was the mild-mannered, peacemaker of the family.

"He took away what we could never get back," said Rebecca Velasco. "We as a family share a lot of laughs, and because of him, we will never hear J's laugh again."

In September, Dean was found guilty of second-degree murder. During the trial, he took the stand in his defense, and admitted to firing, but claimed it was when the victim came after him. He said he shot in self-defense.

RELATED: Jury finds James Dean guilty of second-degree murder

Dean didn't have any visible reaction to the sentence. But his attorney, Kojo Moore, said he took it hard.

"He was just very sad. He didn't cry, but he was very sad."

Despite what appears to be a life sentence, Moore said he's optimistic some other factors could reduce his clients actual time in prison.

"It all depends because, the California Department of Corrections, they are changing their time credits and sentencing all the time, so I'm not sure the exact amount of time."

But Dean's legal troubles are not over. He is now facing two new charges for having homemade weapons in jail. Dean and his attorney asked the prosecutor to drop those charges, but they refused.
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