Downtown Santa Rosa killer re-sentenced to 12 years

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A twice-convicted killer previously serving life in prison for a brutal 2013 slaying outside the downtown Santa Rosa library was resentenced Friday to 12 years behind bars after jurors at his second trial found him guilty of lesser charges.

Vladimir Sotelo-Urena, 35, was convicted last month of voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of Nicholas Bloom, 22, of Santa Rosa, whose lifeless body was found in the parking lot Christmas Eve in a pool of his own blood, with 70 to 80 wounds in his neck and torso.

Evidence suggested Sotelo-Urena attacked Bloom, a Montgomery High School graduate, chasing him across the parking lot and plunging a knife into him, after Bloom asked him for a cigarette.

Sotelo-Urena, who was homeless at the time, was convicted at his first trial of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison.

But he won a new trial after appealing the judge’s decision to bar expert testimony about how homeless people respond to perceived threats of violence. A second jury found the slaying was not murder, accepting the idea that Sotelo-Urena acted in “imperfect” self-defense.

At the urging of prosecutor Bob Waner, Judge Dana Simonds handed down the maximum sentence possible, 12 years, noting it was “rare” to see that level of violence anywhere.

“It was, I’m sure, a painful and terrible death,” Simonds said. “And it seemed to be all over a cigarette.”

Under state sentencing laws and with credit for time already served, Sotelo-Urena could be out in five years.

Bloom’s family members expressed unhappiness at the outcome. They played a 4-minute video in open court with still photos of Bloom as a child and young man, set to country music.

His aunt, Becky Glass, read a statement from Bloom’s mother before offering her own words. She blamed Sotelo-Urena for the suicide of Bloom’s older brother, Tyler, two years after the killing.

Sotelo-Urena, shackled to a wheelchair, kept his eyes averted, looking straight ahead. But he turned to Glass briefly and smiled when she said, “I see you looking at me out of the corner of your eye.”

“You decapitated him and kicked him in the head when you were done … how can you live with yourself?” Glass said bolting back to her seat.

Sotelo-Urena did not make a statement. His lawyers argued at trial that he feared Bloom was going to attack him. Test results showed Bloom had methamphetamine in his system.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.

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