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Man Gets 35 Years to Life for Killing in Beer Bottle Scrape

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Santa Ana man convicted of killing a man who nearly kicked over his bottle of beer was sentenced Friday to 35 years to life in prison.

Before sentencing 27-year-old Rey Adam Esquerra to the maximum penalty, Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald listened to an emotional plea from the victim’s widow.

Nieves Robinson, 34, said she and her children became homeless and had to live in a shelter for two months after her husband’s murder on June 15, 1989. The mother of six said she has struggled to provide for her children, the youngest of whom was born after the killing.

“You killed my husband. You can’t help me raise my family,” she said in the courtroom as she looked at Esquerra. “I shouldn’t feel hate, but I feel so much hate and anger.”

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Esquerra, who was convicted Jan. 10 of first-degree murder and robbery for shooting Eugene Robinson in the back of the head, kept his back turned to Nieves Robinson as she spoke; he cried during her comments.

During the trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. James P. Marion said Eugene Robinson and his friend, Eugene Maciel, had been walking home on Pine Street in Santa Ana when they encountered Esquerra and another man drinking beer on the sidewalk.

As they walked by, Robinson nearly knocked over a bottle of beer by accident, causing a verbal confrontation and then a fistfight.

Marion said the fight may have been racially motivated because some racial slurs were made against the victim. Robinson was black and Esquerra is Latino.

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At one point during the fight, Esquerra yanked a gold chain from Maciel’s neck. Maciel and Robinson then tried to flee, but Esquerra pulled out a handgun and fatally shot Robinson as he ran.

On Friday, Esquerra’s attorney, Robert E. Scott, asked the judge to give his client a lesser sentence because the murder had not been premeditated, and was only ruled first-degree because of the robbery of the chain.

Marion argued that Esquerra, who had been convicted of three theft-related felonies in the past and was on parole at the time of the shooting, deserved a harsh sentence.

Esquerra “is not a young kid any more,” Marion said. “He’s old enough to be put away.”

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After Nieves Robinson’s plea, Esquerra told the judge: “I know she is going through pain. I have kids too. I didn’t do this.

“If I did do what everybody said I did, I deserve this,” he said. “My wife has kids, too, that will be raised without me.”


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