A 21-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life behind bars for the beating and stomping death of a disabled man at Rancho Cienega Park in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw area.
“You made my brother really suffer in his last moments in life,” the victim’s sister told the defendant in court. “You’ve created a wound in our hearts that will never heal. I hope that my brother’s face will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bernie La Forteza denied the defense’s motion for a new trial for Tyshaun Vasquez, who was convicted of second-degree murder for the Nov. 30, 2014, killing of Eddie Ray Smith Jr., 43.
Vasquez’s attorney, Seymour Applebaum, contended that jurors should have been given the option of considering involuntary manslaughter.
“The actual intent to kill I don’t think is there,” he told the judge.
Deputy District Attorney Casey Higgins called it a “heinous crime” against a “vulnerable individual” who was `hunched over and “noticeably disabled.”
The victim’s sister, Maya Smith, said she had noticed in court how much bigger Vasquez was than her brother, whom she said suffered from “severe back issues.”
Smith’s body was found in the park at 5001 Rodeo Road.
The defendant’s paternal aunt told the judge that her nephew applied for a visa and came from Belize to live with her when he was 15. She apologized in court to the victim’s family and said her nephew is “remorseful about this” and is “suffering.”
Jurors acquitted Vasquez of first-degree murder — which included the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of an attempted robbery — along with a count of attempted robbery.
Vasquez — who is still awaiting sentencing on an unrelated robbery case — was charged in January 2015 along with co-defendant Jordan English, who was 16 at the time and was charged as an adult.
English’s case has been transferred to a juvenile court to determine if he should stand trial as a juvenile or an adult as a result of a ballot measure approved by voters last year.
— City News Service