SAN DIEGO - A 23-year-old man who shot two men, killing one, after a dispute at a Bankers Hill apartment complex was sentenced Friday to 27 years and four months in state prison.
Ruben Acosta Jr. pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon in the July 24, 2012, death of 27-year-old Luis Espinoza.
The defendant's father, 42-year-old Ruben Acosta Sr., and 20-year-old brother, Rodney Acosta, also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault charges and were each sentenced to 14 years behind bars.
Ruben Acosta Jr. said he felt threatened by the victims the day of the shooting. The defendant said the victims had been sending him text messages, saying they had "paperwork" on him.
Acosta Jr. said he had dropped out of his gang in 2010.
"I know I'm the one to blame for Luis Espinoza's death," the defendant told the victim's family. "I'm sorry for your loss. I hope you'll forgive me."
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser was not impressed with Acosta trying to blame the victims for the crime.
"It's pretty disturbing," the judge said. "They (the Acosta family) are a threat to civilized people."
Armando Espinoza told the Acostas that he had forgiven them for killing his son.
"I forgive you and your sons for what you did to our family, the victim's father told Acosta Sr.
Luis Espinoza was shot three times in the abdomen about 3:15 p.m. in a second-floor apartment at the youth transitional complex in the 100 block of West Fir Street, according to court testimony.
San Diego police said Ruben Acosta Jr. called his father and asked him to bring a gun because a group of people in the next apartment were talking badly about him and calling him a snitch.
About 20 minutes later, gunfire erupted and 40 minutes after that, Acosta Sr. and Rodney Acosta were arrested in a traffic stop in El Cajon. Acosta Jr. was arrested three weeks later in Mexico.