A Fresno man who murdered his girlfriend’s ex-husband was sentenced Thursday to 61 years to life in state prison.
James Ryan Dean, 26, killed Augustine Velasco Jr., 43, in the early evening hours of July 8, 2017, by shooting him in the stomach. Velasco was unarmed.
Superior Court Judge James Petrucelli said Dean must serve additional time in prison because he has a previous conviction for residential burglary under the state’s Three Strikes Law and because he has a prior prison sentence.
The shooting death happened in a neighborhood north of Fresno City College. According to trial testimony, Velasco was trying to help his daughter retrieve her daughter from the home of his ex-wife, Diana Pasillas, who wouldn’t turn over the baby to her.
Velasco confronted his ex-wife. Dean, her boyfriend, got into an argument with Velasco before shooting him once in the stomach. Dean’s defense attorney said in court papers Dean shot Velasco because he had taken off his shirt and was about to attack Dean.
Before the sentence was handed down, Rebecca Velasco addressed the court on behalf of the family.
“This is the hardest thing we ever had to go through as a family,” she said. “Although James Dean is getting sentenced to all these years in prison, it doesn’t seem long enough for us. He took away what we can never get back.”
Defense attorney Kojo Moore asked to the judge “to look at the totality of his life” in deciding Dean’s fate, and said Dean did not have a violent past.
But deputy district attorney Robert Romanacce said Dean has been caught twice in the Fresno County jail with weapons.
Dean gets credit for 523 days in jail but won’t go to state prison right away. He has a January court date in Fresno on charges of having weapons in jail.