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Spring Valley

Jesse Lee Stuart was sentenced Thursday to 35 years to life in state prison for killing sheriff’s cadet Kelly Bazer and for two robberies.

Stuart, 20, of San Diego, received the maximum sentence from San Diego Superior Court Judge Barbara Gamer, who said he is a danger to society.

Stuart was convicted of first-degree murder July 31 for killing Bazer, 28, an El Cajon mother of two, in Spring Valley on Jan. 13 after robbing a nearby Safeway store and a customer in the parking lot.

“I’m glad he got what he got,” said Bazer’s father, Thomas Hotchkiss, of El Cajon. “At least he won’t be out on the street for awhile.”

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Dressed in jail clothes and chained around his feet and waist, Stuart said nothing during his sentencing.

Two co-defendants, Prentice Byrd, 19, and Ronnie Davis Williams, 20, face trial Sept. 24. Their attorneys have indicated they are seeking a settlement on lesser charges with the district attorney’s office.

“Society has to be protected. I believe Mr. Stuart should be in prison for the rest of his life,” Judge Gamer said.

“Mr. Stuart started out with (convictions for) petty theft, robbery and now murder. He was on parole when these crimes were committed,” Gamer said.

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She said the method of the Safeway store robbery showed sophistication in that a police scanner was in the getaway car and the robbers used ski masks.

Gamer imposed 27 years to life for Bazer’s murder, seven years for the holdup of Gerald Hardesty, the Safeway manager, and one year consecutively for the robbery of customer Jay Wood, of Spring Valley.

Bazer was the first sheriff’s deputy killed in more than 100 years. She was attending the Sheriff’s Academy and had been in training for 10 days when she was killed. Bazer was not armed at the time.

Testimony during the trial indicated that Stuart confronted Bazer on St. George Street after she parked her car at her brother-in-law’s house. Stuart demanded her car keys, but she refused and ran away.

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She was then shot in the back. A neighbor, Michael Foxhoven Sr., testified that the gunman picked up something from her hands, believed to be her car keys, and then drove away in her car.


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