Fallbrook grandma gets 50 years to life for killing son-in-law

Posted at 6:58 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 22:11:01-04

VISTA, Calif. (KGTV)--A woman who shot her son-in-law a dozen times at their Fallbrook home after he criticized her attire was sentenced Thursday to 50 years to life in prison.

Cynthia Cdebaca, 66, was convicted last month of first-degree murder in the Feb. 11, 2014, killing of 53-year-old Geoward Eustaquio.

Around 8 a.m. the day of the killing, the two were alone in his home -- getting ready to go to a spelling bee for his daughter -- when he made a snide remark about her clothing and told her to change, according to Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.

Cdebaca went upstairs to her "granny flat" adjacent to the residence and retrieved a .38-caliber, five-shot revolver and shot Eustaquio five times in the backyard, the prosecutor said.

When the victim didn't die, Cdebaca went to her car and reloaded her gun, then went back and shot him five more times, the prosecutor said.

Eustaquio crawled inside the home but was shot at five more times by his mother-in-law after she reloaded the gun again, Watanabe told the jury. All but three of the 15 shots she fired struck the victim, he said.

Cdebaca went to a Denny's restaurant for breakfast, gambled at a casino, then went to her favorite coffee shop, where she was arrested, the prosecutor said.

The defendant told authorities that her son-in-law was abusive toward his wife and children and that they had put up with him for 13 years.

Defense attorney William Stone said Cdebaca "snapped" after seeing her daughter and grandchildren abused. The defendant told detectives that she shot Eustaquio to protect her family from him, and Stone asked jurors to find Cdebaca guilty of manslaughter.

Cdebaca haltingly apologized, saying “I’m sorry.”

Her daughter, Laura Salinas, is also the widow of the victim. "This is a tragedy. I love my mom, I loved Geoward. There's no win here, not for anyone. It's just complete sadness."

Sabra Cabrera is Cdebaca’s niece. "She's not a monster. She's always been a loving mother to me and good grandma to the kids. It's hard for us for her to go away."

There were angry words directed at her, too, from the Eustaquia family. Geoward’s sister Georanna Biroonak told the court, ) "Geoward was stolen away from us in 2014 by a cold-blooded murderer. She was an evil person who deserves every second behind bars." She vowed never to “forgive this horrible monster.”

Her brother George said he did forgive, though he hurts. "Every time my brother's name is said, I bawl. I just break down."

Another sister Geonisa Harris held up several pictures of her dead brother. "No one, absolutely no one can or will take his vibrant spirit, his love for family or even his quirky laugh, all of which thrive in our memories today."