Accomplice Previously Sentenced to Death : Taco Bell Slayer Draws 25 Years to Life
A 23-year-old Pacoima man was convicted of first-degree murder Friday and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for his role in the 1983 execution-style slayings of two Taco Bell employees in Burbank.
Eddie Ramon Salazar, described by authorities as a Sun Valley gang member, was also found guilty of robbery and burglary by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio N. Munoz after a non-jury trial.
Salazar sat motionless as sentence was pronounced while his mother, Barbara Salazar, who had pleaded with Munoz to show her family mercy, wept. He will be eligible for parole in 13 1/2 years.
Salazar was the accomplice of William Kirkpatrick, a transient who was sentenced to death in 1984 for shooting and killing James Falconio, 16, a student at Burroughs High School, and Lindell W. Hunter, 27, of North Hollywood. Police said Kirkpatrick, a fired former employee of the Taco Bell, apparently was seeking revenge against his former employers.
Defense attorney Donald H. Steier argued in court that Salazar did not actively participate in the killings and was standing outside the restaurant during the robberies. Steier said Salazar ran in a panic when he heard shots and was horrified at the killings.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Loren Naimen argued that Salazar’s actions fell under the felony murder rule, which holds that a person can be prosecuted for murder if death results from the acts of an accomplice.
Steier said after the court proceeding that he had already appealed the conviction.
Falconio’s mother, Rose Falconio, who was present at the sentencing, said she was pleased with the sentence. “I’m glad he got the maximum sentence. That’s what I wanted him to get,” she said.