Judge Sentences Killer to 2 Life Terms in Prison

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Convicted murderer Mario Briseno is a "monster" who should never be let free, relatives of one of his victims told a Superior Court judge Thursday minutes before Briseno was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison.

Briseno, 36, sat calmly in court Thursday and stared straight ahead as relatives of the two people he killed during 1994 robberies described how their lives had been shattered. The wife of one victim, a 36-year-old father of four, had a relative read a statement because she was too distraught to speak.

The woman's husband, Alvaro Martinez Diaz, was fatally shot in the head while working at a Santa Ana jewelry store. A few days later, Briseno shot Piedad Preciado, a 50-year-old mother of three, as she opened her record store.

A jury last year also found Briseno guilty of a third robbery in Santa Ana that did not result in any death or injury.

Preciado's 30-year-old son, Roland, told Judge William W. Bedsworth Thursday that his mother was the backbone of the family, although he believes she lives on through his young daughter.

"She wanted one thing, and one thing only: a granddaughter," he told the court.

Diaz's wife, Soledad, stood in front of the judge but had her brother-in-law read a statement because she was too sad to speak.

"Save society from this monster," brother-in-law Albert Martinez read from the statement, "by never letting him out free."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Dan McNerney asked the judge to consider the quality of the people killed and Briseno's lack of remorse before he handed down the decision.

Briseno did not address the court and, according to a probation report, requested that no friends or family members speak on his behalf.

But Briseno's attorney, Brian Ducker, told the court that his client maintains his innocence and therefore cannot be remorseful.

"It is not a lack of compassion; he has a lack of responsibility," Ducker said. "Their pain is not his pain, though he feels for them."

Ducker asked the judge to make the sentences concurrent, because one life sentence without parole is a complete sentence.

Bedsworth agreed that one life sentence would seem logical. However, he ordered two consecutive sentences because of what he called Briseno's criminal "sophistication." He also wanted to ensure that Briseno never leaves state prison, he said.

"I was very impressed that the victims' families were essentially living the American dream," Bedsworth said, noting that they had come from "humble circumstances to achieve a great deal."

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