Eduardo Sandoval might be the least culpable of those charged with the murder of Camille Love in Tacoma.
But he was the one who rejected a deal with Pierce County prosecutors, went to trial and ended up with more than 75 years in prison.
“That was a monumentally terrible decision” that showed his lack of maturity at the time, defense attorney Nathan Rouse told the Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Martin on Thursday.
Sandoval was back in court for the Feb. 7, 2010, shooting because the Washington State Supreme Court said earlier this year that he needed a new trial for the murder charge.
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This time, 29-year-old Sandoval came to an agreement with prosecutors and was before Martin to be resentenced.
She gave him 21 years, three months in prison, citing his youth at the time, his degree of involvement in the crime and work he’s done to rehabilitate himself in prison.
Sandoval was one of seven charged for the shooting, which mistakenly targeted 20-year-old Love and her brother, Joshua, as part of a retaliatory attack against a rival gang.
The Loves were not involved with gangs and were shot while stopped at a Tacoma traffic light. Investigators believe they were attacked because the defendants in the case associated the color of the car the Loves were in and the color of Joshua Love’s clothing with their rivals.
Camille was killed, and Joshua was wounded.
Sandoval was at meetings where the gang planned to use a stolen van to drive around and find rival gang members to shoot.
His job was to be a lookout.
Martin noted before handing down her sentence that the attack was “emblematic of the senselessness of gang violence.”
The Love family told the court about their traumatic loss and how the shooting has affected them.
Joshua Love said he was about the same age as Sandoval at the time of the shooting.
“I knew that that was not something that should be done,” Love said.
Everyone makes mistakes, he acknowledged, but “that’s a big mistake. And that’s a big difference between right and wrong.”
Love said he wasn’t sure if Sandoval was remorseful but that he did know any sentence would “be a blink of an eye to him compared to the life that my sister will not get to have.”
Sandoval was convicted at his trial of first-degree murder, first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
The state Supreme Court decided earlier this year that jurors should have been allowed to consider manslaughter as a lesser crime.
Instead of a new trial on the murder charge, prosecutors agreed to drop that count if Sandoval agreed to not ask for a sentence of fewer than 20 years on the other convictions.
“Here, it is clear that youthfulness diminished Mr. Sandoval’s capacities at the time of the offense because he was an 18-year-old with a significant history of childhood trauma, underdeveloped decision-making skills and a significant capacity for rehabilitation,” Sandoval’s attorneys wrote in his sentencing memorandum.
Prosecutors agreed to ask for no more than 26 years, which was still below Sandoval’s standard sentencing range.
Four of the others charged pleaded guilty and got sentences that ranged from about 12 to 35 years. Two others eluded arrest.
Sandoval apologized to the Loves and said his arrest “was a huge wake-up call for me. I looked around, and prison is a scary place.”
He’s worked hard to better himself, he said, sobbing.
He’s earned his GED, taken job skills classes, been active in his religion and renounced gang activity.
When he’s released, his family said they have a home and job prospects ready for him.
“I just want a chance to make them proud,” Sandoval said.