Crime

Fresno County DA might seek death penalty for 18-year-old suspect in double homicide

Christopher Sanders, 18, allegedly killed two people when he opened fire on them in Fresno.
Christopher Sanders, 18, allegedly killed two people when he opened fire on them in Fresno. Fresno County Sheriffs' Office

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp is deciding whether to seek the death penalty against 18-year-old Christopher Lerone Sanders. He is in jail on charges of shooting two people to death last week at the West Shaw Estates condominium complex at Shaw and Marks avenues in northwest Fresno.

If Sanders is found guilty of both homicides, Smittcamp has the option of seeking the death penalty because charges include the special circumstances of multiple murder.

“The District Attorney’s Office is currently conducting a necessary investigation, and will make a determination and announcement regarding the death penalty at a later date,” her office said Monday in a news release.

If the district attorney decides not to seek the death penalty and Sanders is found guilty, he would get a sentence of life in prison.

Sanders was arrested Thursday in the 4500 block of Sharon Avenue..

He is charged in the shooting deaths of Jesse Villanueva, 28, and Peniamina “Ben” Romero, 17. Sanders is also charged with the attempted murder of a 13-year-old.

The motive for the shootings is unclear, but Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said last week the homicides followed a simmering feud between at least one of the victims and two men.

Police have not disclosed any information about a second suspect.

Sanders will be arraigned on the murder charges Tuesday morning in Fresno County Superior Court.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold
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