A Nevada County judge has sentenced a Petaluma man to 11years in state prison for the 2012 stabbing death of a former Petaluma man.
Sonoma County family members from both sides gathered in an Auburn courtroom Friday for the sentencing of Branden Riddle-Terrel, 26, and to express their anger and grief about the loss of Ryan Roth, 33.
In an agreement between the prosecution and defendant, Riddle-Terrel pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, said Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson.
Roth was stabbed 18 times in his chest, arms and head, Ferguson said.
The hearing marked an end to the legal process that started Feb. 23, 2012, with Roth's violent death and Riddle-Terrel's arrest.
Members of Roth's large Sonoma County family who attended the hearing said there would be no end to their anguish, according to court documents and his mother, Gerry Ielmorini of Petaluma.
"There's such a void," Ielmorini said Wednesday. "He was the youngest of six kids. He was my baby."
Roth, the father of two young Petaluma boys, was born into a longtime area dairy family and raised in Petaluma, said his mother. He moved to Auburn in the last few years, following his divorce, she said.
Riddle-Terrel also was raised in Petaluma but the two hadn't met until they both had moved from Sonoma County, said Ferguson.
At the hearing one of several family members who addressed the judge and the defendant was Eric Gibbs, one of Roth's four older brothers.
Gibbs said he saw Roth just days before the slaying and spoke of a last trip to the snow with his brother and their children and their final conversation.
"With Ryan it was always a hug, not a handshake," Gibbs said.
Family members were dissatisfied with the 11-year sentence and called in court for more prison time.
"Your short time of incarceration compared to the lifetime of pain and suffering you've caused so many people is ridiculous. We will never forget Ryan, and I will never forgive you," Gibbs wrote in his courtroom statement.
Ferguson, who prosecuted the case, said the violence was fueled by drugs.
"This was due to just stupid recreational drug use and drugs ..." she said.
The attack occurred at Roth's Auburn area home where a handful of people had gathered for a marijuana harvest party, the prosecutor said.
Tests showed Roth was sober and hadn't taken drugs the night he died. Riddle-Terrel, however, had consumed whiskey, snorted cocaine and inhaled nitrous oxide, Ferguson said.
Riddle-Terrel began hallucinating and pulled out a folding knife, leading to the attack.
Riddle-Terrel's arrest followed a lengthy car chase that ended in Elk Grove with his car tires flattened and a law enforcement helicopter hovering overhead, according to news reports. He also was bitten repeatedly by a police dog. At the time of the killing, there was a Sonoma County warrant out for his arrest on a parole violation in connection with a 2009 felony domestic violence conviction.
The defendant was facing a murder trial, but Ferguson said his drug and alcohol levels and an initial evaluation he was insane that night could have led to an involuntary manslaughter conviction and shorter incarceration.