A Kerman man who was convicted in one of the speediest murder trials in Fresno County Superior Court history was sentenced Thursday to 50 years to life in prison.
Jaime Beltran, who acted as his own lawyer and spoke only a few words during his trial, finally spoke up on his behalf. He asked Judge W. Kent Hamlin how the jury could have convicted him, especially since a key prosecution witness couldn't identify him as the killer.
Hamlin fired back, saying the witness was afraid of Beltran.
"Everyone in this court said it was you and you know it was you," said Hamlin, who took about 15 minutes to sentence Beltran.
Beltran, 24, was accused of using a shotgun to fatally shoot 45-year-old Eduardo Reynoso, who was unarmed outside a rural home near Kerman last June.
During the trial, prosecutor Stephanie Savrnoch said Reynoso was shot because he had complained about Beltran and others growing marijuana in the neighborhood.
She said Beltran confronted Reynoso and his friend, Santana Santos Garcia, just before noon on June 30 in the front yard of a home on Madera Avenue, south of Jensen Avenue.
"Are you talking about me?" Beltran asked the two men, according to Savrnoch.
Beltran then asked God for forgiveness right before he fatally shot Reynoso in front of Garcia, Savrnoch said. He was arrested later that night while driving a PT Cruiser. In the back seat of the car was the shotgun used to kill Reynoso, Savrnoch said.
In his defense, Beltran offered only a few words to the jury: "Ah ... Do the right thing. That's it."
Within five hours, Savrnoch closed her case after breezing through about 10 witnesses without any opposition from Beltran, who chose not to cross-examine them or call a single witness on his behalf. He also declined to give a closing argument.
On Jan. 8, the jury deliberated less than an hour before finding him guilty of committing first-degree murder with a shotgun.
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