A Fresno man was sentenced Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court to 21 years in prison for fatally shooting another man in Clovis two years ago.
Chris Washington said in a letter to the judge that he was remorseful for taking the life of 31-year-old Kay Daniels III, who was shot in the back at Helm and Ashlan avenues on March 24, 2011.
Washington, 31, was initially found guilty in February 2012 of second-degree murder and faced 40 years to life in prison.
But Judge Jonathan Conklin granted Washington a new trial because of jury misconduct -- the jury foreman showed fellow jurors information from the Internet during deliberations. The law mandates that jurors must reach a verdict based solely on evidence presented in the courtroom.
In the second trial in May, a different jury rejected the murder charge and found Washington guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
From the get-go, Washington's lawyer, Michael Aed, argued that the killing was in self-defense. According to Aed, Daniels fired first at Washington and then turned and ran, causing him to be shot in the back by Washington.
Daniels was known to carry a gun and gunshot residue was found on his hands on the day of his death, Aed said. In addition, Daniels was with other people who were known to carry guns. They were witnesses in the trial, Aed said.
"It's a culture we often see where people carry guns -- legally and illegally -- for their protection," Aed said.
But during Wednesday's hearing, Joyce Daniels, the victim's mother, told Conklin that her son was unarmed when he was shot. She said her son got gunshot residue on his hands when he clutched clothing after he was shot.
"This man is a sociopath," Daniels said. "If he gets out, he will kill again."
Conklin said Washington is one of those rare defendants who claim responsibility for his actions. The judge also said Washington agreed to the maximum penalty -- 21 years in prison -- that's allowed by law for a conviction of manslaughter with the use of a gun.
In addition, Washington pleaded no contest to attempted armed robbery in October 2010. Conklin allowed punishment for that crime to run concurrent with punishment for the manslaughter conviction.
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