A 66-year-old woman was sentenced Friday to 35 years to life in prison for gunning down her 40-year-old niece in Brea last year.
Eunsoo Bae pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a firearm on Oct. 22.
Bae shot Jennifer Lee of Claremont on Jan. 10, 2017. Bae’s family members held her down in a driveway in the 400 block of Tangerine Place when police responded to the shooting about 4:45 p.m., according to Brea police.
The defendant and victim, who was an attorney with an office in Yorba Linda, were at a family gathering at a relative’s home and got into a “family dispute,” police said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker said the motive for the shooting was not publicly disclosed or discussed in court so she declined to reveal any details about the conflict.
Lee’s fiance, Sean Smith, declined to comment after the hearing.
Smith told Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett, who handed down the sentence, “I don’t know how to put into words this horrible thing that (Bae) has done to me.”
Smith added, “She may have taken my fiance physically, but she’ll never take away her spirit… I will be forever grateful for the time I had with her. I love her dearly.”
Lee’s friend, Ricky Chu, struggled to make a statement to the judge as he broke down crying at various points.
“She was the friendliest person,” Chu said of the victim. “She was just a joy to be around.”
Before the shooting, “She was taking time to plan her wedding and that’s what we should have been celebrating last year. Instead we had her funeral.”
Lee “is going to be really missed,” Chu said. “The world won’t be the same without her.”
The maximum punishment Bae could have faced was 50 years to life in prison.
Bae’s attorney, Jennifer Ryan, said her client wanted to plead guilty earlier in the process.
“She has wanted to accept responsibility for her actions,” Ryan said.
Prickett said he could not grant probation in the case because of the vulnerability of the victim and the “planning” that went into the killing. He also characterized the shooting as “callous” and “sophisticated.”
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