A Turlock, (CA) man who claimed he was “in fear for his life” when he shot a thief trying to steal old car batteries was just sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm on a person.
Brandon Pacheco was described in court as a gentle man who gave the best hugs and would never intentionally harm anyone. His family and friends said Wednesday that the 25-year-old man knew how to build pools and fix cars; he always was willing to help those in need.
They said Pacheco was likely struggling with personal issues toward the end of his life, certainly having financial problems. But they also said he never carried a weapon and was not the drug-crazed person he was portrayed as by the man who shot him in the back.
On July 23, 2013, Robin Duane Boyer caught Pacheco stealing several old car batteries from Boyer’s rural Turlock home. The prosecution said Boyer fired a shotgun at Pacheco from 20 yards away as Pacheco was trying to leave. The defense said Boyer feared for his life after repeated brazen burglaries at the home and fired the gun to protect himself.
Jolee Henley, Pacheco’s sister, said Boyer called her brother a thief but that it was the defendant who took her brother’s life and his future “over some old junk in your field.”
“I call you a thief and a murderer,” Henley told Boyer as he sat next to his attorney a few feet away.
Chris Boyer, the defendant’s son, spoke in court on behalf of his father. He said his father is hardworking man.
“He’s not this violent mercenary that everyone is portraying him to be,” he told the judge.
Boyer said it isn’t right for his father to be taken away from his nine grandchildren for something that wouldn’t have happened had Pacheco not trespassed on his father’s property. The defense asked the judge for probation for Robin Boyer instead of prison after serving two years in the Stanislaus County jail.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova on Wednesday sentenced Boyer, 62, to seven years in prison for shooting Pacheco. The defendant faced a maximum of 14 years in prison. The judge said he chose a reduced sentence because Boyer had no previous criminal convictions.
A jury on Feb. 3 found Boyer guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting. The jurors acquitted the defendant of second-degree murder.
Boyer also was sentenced to seven years for assault with a firearm on a person for the first shotgun blast that failed to hit Pacheco but struck the rear tire of Pacheco’s motorcycle. That additional sentence will be served concurrently.
Even after being convicted Robin Duane Boyer expressed no real remorse for Pacheco’s death, clearly feeling he was justified firing twice at an unarmed man who was 20 yards away and trying to escape.
“A young man lost his life needlessly,” the defendant said. “It was a horrible, horrible thing, and I will live with that for the rest of my life … and I hope you can forgive me.”
Deputy District Attorney John R. Mayne told the judge that Boyer refuses to accept responsibility, even in his courtroom apology. The prosecutor said Boyer lied about how the shooting occurred, claiming he accidentally fired at Pacheco. He said Boyer was an experienced gun owner who pulled a shotgun trigger twice, and that it was no accident.
“ ‘There was nothing I could do,’ ” Mayne said, referring to Boyer’s courtroom apology. “What utter nonsense.”
No matter what you hear from the bluster of “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6” Internet lawyers guild, you will likely be sent to prison for shooting people who were not deadly force threats, including trespassers and petty thieves outside your home.
I’d like to think that some Internet tough guys will read this story and reconsider their belief that they can shoot someone on their property and claim “I was in fear for my life.”
Uttering that phrase doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s not a a get out-of-jail-free card. If you cannot reasonably articulate why you considered someone a deadly force threat and the evidence does not support your version of events you will go to prison.
Learn the self-defense laws of your state, and never use deadly force against someone without absolutely needing to do so to protect your life or the life of another.