Man who killed a brother and sister sentenced

Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 19:24:01-04

A man who shot and killed a brother and sister during an argument outside a Southcrest home last year was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole plus 25 years to life.

Felipe DeJesus Vega Meza, 40, pleaded guilty last month to a pair of first-degree murder counts and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders for the Nov. 8 "execution-style" deaths of 20-year-old Arline Iribe
and 22-year-old Alex Velarde.

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"He (the defendant) executed two human beings who were innocent," said Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund, who called the circumstances that led up to the murders both "devastating" and "evil."

A specific reason for the argument and subsequent killings was not disclosed.

The victims' mother, Maria Velarde, cried as she asked Judge David Danielsen "why he (the defendant) did that with my children?"

"He has no idea the damage he has done to me and my children," the mother told the judge.

At the defendant's arraignment last year, Maund said Vega shot the victims after a sequence of events days before the murders.

On Nov. 8, Iribe decided she'd had enough of Vega's refusal to let an unspecified issue go, but he pulled out a gun and shot her before turning the weapon on her brother, Maund said. The prosecutor said the victims knew Vega and had treated him like a family member for years. Maund said that Vega "destroyed the family within minutes."

Vega was the subject of a manhunt until the night of Nov. 12, when officers spotted him in his car about a block away from the South 43rd Street house where the slayings occurred.

Refusing to yield, Vega led a 20-minute road chase during which he tossed a handgun out of his vehicle, Maund said.

Vega ultimately pulled over near Joyner Elementary School but ignored repeated orders to exit and surrender. He remained holed up in his green Oldsmobile Cutlass late into the night as officers and negotiators attempted to coax him out of the car and used pepper spray and a police dog to try to force him to comply.

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When he finally exited the sedan, Vega appeared to reach for something in his waistband as he turned toward police, prompting Officer Christopher Luth, an 11-year member of the SDPD, to shoot him once in the upper body, according to police.

Vega was treated at a hospital for a non-life-threatening wound.