A state appeals court panel Monday upheld an Oklahoma man’s conviction for gunning down a woman and her 4-year-old daughter in an unprovoked attack in Long Beach.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal cited “compelling evidence of guilt” by Brandon Ivan Colbert Jr., who was convicted of first-degree murder for the Aug. 6, 2016, murders of Carina Mancera, 26, and her daughter, Jennabel Anaya.
He was also convicted of trying to kill the girl’s father, Luis Anaya, who was not hit by the gunfire.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of murder while lying in wait and multiple murders, along with allegations that he personally discharged a firearm.
The appellate court justices noted in their 41-page ruling that Colbert “without provocation fired shotgun blasts at Carina and her young daughter” and fired — but missed — after the girl’s father rushed toward him.
“DNA collected from one of the shotgun shells recovered at the scene of the shootings matched defendant’s DNA,” the panel noted.
Colbert — who claimed he was innocent and described the crimes as “Hollywood-type happenings” — was sentenced in February 2018 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
At his sentencing hearing, Colbert tried to get out of his seat and walk out of the Long Beach courtroom as friends of the victims were about to speak, but Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies pounced on him and forced him to the floor.
“You’re going to sit here and listen to them now. Stop it,” Superior Court Judge Jesse I. Rodriguez told Colbert shortly before he tried to rise from his seat.
“I want to get out of here … I don’t care about this,” Colbert responded.
After Colbert was detained, the hearing had to be delayed while the sheriff’s department conducted a “use of force” investigation and interviewed people in court who saw what happened.
When the hearing resumed, Colbert was restrained in a “safety chair,” with the judge telling him it was “because of your disruption.” Rodriguez subsequently denied Colbert’s request that the rest of the hearing not be recorded by a television news crew.
“You acted, you behaved and you achieved your goal as a real urban terrorist,” the judge said. “You went hunting in the beautiful city of Long Beach looking for an easy prey and you found them.”
The judge noted that video evidence showed Colbert passing several adult men, and said Colbert continued his travels to find “the most innocent of victims” and to cause terror, grief and sorrow to a young family and concern and fear through a large city.
Rodriguez called the shooting a “cowardly act of terror,” telling the defendant, “You are a coward.”
The defendant snapped back at the judge, calling him a coward.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office opted not to seek the death penalty against Colbert, but Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes described him as “the worst, most vile monster I’ve ever come across,” calling him a “pox” on the Earth.
In a sentencing memorandum, the prosecutor wrote that the attack was “without any provocation.”
Mancera and her daughter were gunned down near Ninth Street and Locust Avenue as the family was returning home from grocery shopping. Authorities said he hid behind a sign and opened fire on the family with a shotgun.
Colbert was arrested about three weeks after the killings by Los Angeles police on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and a DNA swab was obtained, ultimately linking him to the killings.
The surviving victim told investigators that a man walked up to his longtime girlfriend and their daughter and suddenly — without provocation — opened fire, then ran off. He said he did not recognize the man, nor did anyone else in the neighborhood.
Colbert spent time in a state mental hospital after being found incompetent to stand trial, but criminal proceedings were reinstated after authorities determined that his mental competency had been restored. He acted as his own attorney during the trial.
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