Two men sentenced to life in Healdsburg pot garden killing

  • Employees from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Coroner's removal service with the help of Deputy Sheriff Bryan Jensen, right, enter the crime scene to pick up a body on Mill Creek Rd west of Healdsburg, California, on Sunday, October 16, 2011. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Two men convicted of second-degree murder for a 2011 slaying in a rural Healdsburg marijuana garden were sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.

Judge Gary Medvigy described defendant Sidonio Cruz-Santos, 36, of Santa Rosa as the one in charge of the pot cultivation and who was calling the shots when violence broke out, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

Cruz-Santos and co-defendant Augustin Zepeda-Onofre, 25, of Windsor were partying Oct. 16, 2011 near the garden off Chemise Road in the Dry Creek Valley when one of them shot and killed the brother-in-law of a man they hired to tend the pot.

A Sonoma County jury May 7 found the men guilty in the shooting death of Gabino Lopez-Santiago, 46, of Healdsburg.

On Tuesday, Medvigy handed Sidonio Cruz-Santos 15 years to life in prison for the killing and an additional 26 years for three counts of assault with a firearm, felony cultivation and persuading a witness by force.

Zepeda-Onofre will serve 25 years to life for the killing, assault with a firearm and felony cultivation, said his attorney, Chief Deputy Public Defender Kristine Burk.

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