Merced Sun-Star — A man convicted of killing an Atwater correctional officer was sentenced Friday to life in prison, the U.S. Justice Department reported.
James Ninete Leon Guerrero, 48, of Guam, pleaded guilty in March to a single count of murder in U.S. District Court in Fresno for his role in the 2008 death of correctional officer Jose Rivera. U.S. District Judge Phillip Pro accepted the plea agreement in March, allowing Guerrero to avoid the death penalty.
Guerrero was formally sentenced Friday by Pro of the District of Nevada.
According to court documents, Guerrero aided and abetted co-defendant Jose Cabrera Sablan in the stabbing death on June 20, 2008.
Rivera, a 22-year-old Navy veteran, was conducting the daily inmate count in the U.S. Penitentiary in Atwater when Sablan attacked him with an 8-inch “homemade shank,” the Justice Department said.
Investigators said Rivera tried to flee but was knocked backward by Sablan and tackled by Guerrero. Guerrero held Rivera down as Sablan stabbed the officer more than 20 times with the makeshift weapon.
The deal Guerrero received angered Rivera’s mother, Terry, who was hoping for the death penalty. She could not be reached for comment Friday. continue reading...