Sentencing for debt-collector who fatally shot man in face

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Family and friends of Brandon DeGuzman attended the sentencing of the Santee man who shot him to death over a $30 drug debt in 2016.

Richard James Gunner, 25, was sentenced Sept. 20 to 40 years to life in prison by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Daniel Lamborn.

Additonally, Gunner received a consecutive sentence of 12 years for felony assault of another inmate in jail in 2017.

Family and friends of Brandon DeGuzman attended the sentencing of the Santee man who shot him to death over a $30 drug debt in 2016.

Richard James Gunner, 25, was sentenced Sept. 20 to 40 years to life in prison by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Daniel Lamborn.

Additonally, Gunner received a consecutive sentence of 12 years for felony assault of another inmate in jail in 2017.

Gunner pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and received 25 years to life. Lamborn imposed five years for using an assault weapon to kill DeGuzman, 21, and 10 years consecutively for his two prior felony convictions to equal 40 years.

Lamborn ordered Gunner to pay $7,307 in funeral expenses for DeGuzman, who was shot in the face on Sept. 24, 2016. DeGuzman’s body was found lying on a sidewalk at 5:30 a.m. in the 500 block of Danny Street in El Cajon.

Gunner was hired to collect the debt by Tristan Eric Klingensmith, 22, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison a year ago. Klingensmith pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, possession of methamphetamine for sale and felon in possession of a firearm.

Klingensmith, whose nickname was “Cowboy,” was a drug dealer who hired Gunner to collect drug debts. Court records say Klingensmith told Gunner to threaten DeGuzman. Gunner had given DeGuzman 24 hours to pay up.

Lamborn imposed the sentence recommended by Deputy District Attorney Jihan Maloney. He fined Gunner $14,048 and gave him credit for serving 727 days in jail. Klingensmith was also ordered to share the funeral expenses with Gunner.

Driver flees hit and run, mother brings him back

A drunk driver who killed a pedestrian in El Cajon has been sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

Joshua Colby Ness, 33, of Lakeside, was given 10 years for his guilty plea of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and five more years for leaving the scene of a traffic fatality.

Michael O’Rourke, 60, was homeless when he was struck on North Second Street near Madison Avenue around 10 p.m. He was knocked out of his shoes and died on the sidewalk before paramedics could take him to a hospital on Oct. 10, 2017.

Ness admitted to having a .11 blood/alcohol level. He had been drinking at the Sycuan Indian Reservation golf course. He drove away, but his mother drove him back to the scene where he surrendered.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said her office was unable to find any family members of O’Rourke. The victim had not been drinking and had just purchased coffee at the 7-Eleven store nearby.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador said deaths due to drunk drivers “are an absolute tragedy.”

Amador told Ness he hopes he will “go forward in the community…and be an example of what happens” when people drink and drive.

A murder charge was dismissed when Ness pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and hit and run on Aug. 14. He received credit for nearly a year in jail and was fined $4,724.

Man pleads not-guilty to murder, DUI

An alleged drunk driver who killed a jogger in Lakeside has posted $1 million bond and remains free.

Susana Gotell, 41, was jogging about 6:40 p.m. on Aug. 27 when she was struck by a truck that veered across lanes on North Woodside Avenue. She was rushed to a hospital where she died about an hour later.

Michael Jason Woodfill, 46, of Santee, has been charged with murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI. He has pleaded not guilty.

Woodfill appeared in El Cajon Superior Court on Sept. 24, and will return to court on Oct. 30. Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said her office has not received most of the reports and a preliminary hearing will likely be set on Oct. 30.

Court records say Woodfill was arrested Dec. 31, 2015, for drunk driving and was convicted of misdemeanor drunk driving in 2016.

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