FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- The man convicted of murdering a Kerman couple in a botched burglary will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole, rather than receive the death penalty.
A jury decided the fate of 54-year-old Leroy Johnson Thursday. He killed Gary and Sandra De Bartolo more than a decade ago.
Lead counsel David Mugridge said the jury deliberated for three days.
“I hope that people are satisfied that justice was done in this case. The jury took a significant period of time to think about it, to discuss it,” he said.
Mugridge said it’s been an exhausting 12-year-trial, spanning one-third of his career.
It started in July of 2009 when investigators said Johnson and five others went to the De Bartolo’s house to steal marijuana and cash.
Johnson and another man entered the home but were startled the couple was there, and Johnson cut their throats.
In late August a jury found Johnson guilty of the murders.
Mugridge and fellow attorney Mark King said they tried to reach an agreement with the District Attorney and asked for 50 years, with a 20% time credit.
They said the DA countered wanting them to drop their chance of an appeal to take the death penalty off the table, which Johnson refused.
His attorneys said it was a gamble that paid off.
“We were delighted and grateful that they unanimously chose life over death as a sentence,” King said.
Johnson will be sentenced on November 30th. Mugridge said he’ll file a notice of appeal over the guilty verdict the same day.