A man in the United States illegally was convicted Friday of killing two Northern California deputies in a case that helped fuel the national immigration debate.
Luis Bracamontes was found guilty of shooting Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver in 2014, then killing Placer County sheriff’s Det. Michael Davis Jr. hours later.
“Yay,” he said softly after first verdict read, looking at the victims’ families and jurors with slight smile.
“I’m going to kill more cops soon,” Bracamontes said as he was led away.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Bracamontes, who has repeatedly blurted out in court that he killed the deputies and wished he had killed more. The penalty phase of his trial starts March 5.
Defense attorneys argued that Bracamontes is mentally ill and was high on methamphetamine during the shootings and should be spared. A judge found Bracamontes competent to stand trial and he refused to plea not guilty by reason of insanity.
Bracamontes is a Mexican citizen who repeatedly entered the United States illegally.
President Trump’s reelection campaign aired a 30-second ad last month featuring Bracamontes and accusing Democrats of being “complicit” in the slayings of law enforcement officers by people in the U.S. illegally.
It was released on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration amid a government shutdown sparked by Democrats’ refusal to support a spending plan unless Republicans agreed to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
Public defenders Jeffrey Barbour and Norm Dawson argued unsuccessfully that anti-immigrant sentiment prompted by Trump made it unlikely that Bracamontes could get a fair trial.
A separate jury is considering whether Bracamontes’ wife, Janelle Monroy, an American citizen, should be convicted of murder. She has contended that she was a victim of her abusive and paranoid husband who frequently used meth, marijuana and alcohol during a meandering journey across several western states, from their home in Utah to Sacramento.
Investigators said he shot Oliver outside a Sacramento motel on Oct. 24, 2014, triggering a manhunt and chase that lasted hours and spanned 30 miles. Authorities say it ended after he shot Davis and surrendered following a lengthy standoff.
Bracamontes has shouted in court that he is guilty and asked to be put to death. He has threatened to kill his defense attorneys and more deputies, and once had to be restrained after the judge ruled that he can’t fire his lawyers.