A Santa Rosa man was sentenced Thursday to 50-years-to-life in prison for killing his romantic rival outside a downtown brewpub.
Ryan Mitchell Dietz, 31, mostly stared straight ahead as relatives of Jack Romero alternately labeled Dietz a monster and a man worthy of forgiveness during an emotional hour-long sentencing.
Romero's 16-year-old daughter, Angelina, told Dietz that he robbed her of the opportunity to enjoy birthdays, graduations and other life milestones with her father.
"The last phone call with my dad saying good night and I love you will forever be with me," she said as Dietz, who was seated next to his attorney, looked away.
Dietz was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2011 slaying of Romero, 33, who had been carrying on an affair with Garicka Rush, 34, the mother of Dietz's three children.
Rush, who lived with Dietz and their children, slipped off to meet Romero, a former neighbor with whom she was resuming an affair. Around midnight, as the two mingled with other patrons outside Third Street Aleworks, Dietz confronted Romero in a darkened alleyway and shot him 11 times.
"It doesn't get more cold than that," prosecutor Jane Murray said Thursday.
Dietz, who sported a goatee and a shaved head, did not speak. He occasionally met the gaze of Romero's family and at times his eyes appeared to water.
However, Romero's family and prosecutors said Dietz has never expressed remorse for the killing.
"We expected he'd be a coward and not say anything," said Lynette Romero, Jack's wife.
Inside the courtroom, Romero's father, who also is named Jack, told Dietz that he is a "punk," before a bailiff cut him off.
Following a video of Romero's life, Judge Dana Simonds took a deep breath in an apparent effort to calm herself. She referred to the case as a "tragedy all the way around."
Casey Romero, Jack's brother, acknowledged the love triangle that sparked Dietz's murderous rage, telling Dietz Thursday that he understands "what it's like to be a man and want the love of someone else."
Casey Romero told Dietz that he forgave him and he encouraged the convicted man to find Jesus Christ in prison.
"Not only will he cover you in prison, he'll cover your family out here," he said.
A member of Dietz's family expressed his sorrow to the Romero family outside the courtroom. Other Dietz family members declined to comment further.
Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of 75-years-to-life for Dietz. However, Simonds previously set aside a conviction on Dietz's juvenile record that would have added 25 years to the penalty.
Rush was not present in the courtroom during Thursday's sentencing. In 2011, she pleaded no contest to attempting to cover up evidence in the case, disposing of some ammunition at the request of Dietz. She had spent nearly five months in jail on the charge, but was released when she agreed to testify against Dietz at his trial. She was later sentenced to probation but no additional prison time; she had been facing as long as 3 years in prison.
You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @deadlinederek.
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