After a series of emotional victory-affirming statements, a Solano County Superior Court judge on Friday formally sentenced a Richmond man to 25 years in prison for the 2015 murder of a Vallejo woman, according to a plea deal. for, 21, and also sentenced his co-defendant to three years in prison for being instrumental in the crime.
In a settlement with the Solano County District Attorney’s office, 33-year-old Isaiah Demetrius McClain, who appeared in court on November 23 and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, heard that Judge E. Bradley Nelson ordered him to serve a prison term, along with the possibility of parole, during an approximately 90-minute morning hearing at Department 4 in the Hall of Justice in Fairfield.
Richard Edward Hill III, 44, also of Richmond, who pleaded guilty to the accessory charge on November 23, along with his defense attorney, Vincent Maher, heard during a Zoom link in the courtroom, and heard Nelson from time to time. But sentenced. county jail, with credit for serving time and has since been released.
The sentencing came after six relatives of A’tera Westbrook, who was going to work on August 3, opened fire outside her home in the 300 block of Benicia, McClain, who was going to work for more than 45 minutes. I had died. Street in Vallejo.
During earlier court proceedings, Chief Deputy District Attorney Paul Sequiera, who led the prosecution, said that McClain shot Vallejo High graduate Westbrook “15 to 17 times, calling it the death of a relative of Hill”. Revenge killing”. ,
During the impact statements, with at least one relative saying that Westbrook did not know McClain, his mother, Senica Levias, looked directly at McClain and called him “a cowardly female killer”.
“You didn’t break us,” she said. “We are here, alive and free…and want nothing but hell in your cell.”
“I can finally say to my child: Rest in peace,” she said softly, pausing between the last three words and noting that January 10, would be her daughter’s 28th birthday.
“Her life was cut short,” said Levias, then, referring to his daughter, “you will always be celebrated.”
“so be it!” Someone shouted in the public gallery.
Regina Shields, one of Westbook’s aunts, called August 3, 2015, “the most painful day of my life.”
The news, she said, “sent my body into shock.”
Shields described her niece as “a beautiful, loving, caring, family-oriented” person, a high school cheerleader who was a “silly, loyal, happy, lover of life”.
Calling him by his name, then looking straight at him said, “Whatever you do in this life will be seen on you again.”
Another aunt, Tiffany Shields, said she had “no doubt that the court would do the right thing”.
“You had a chance to do right,” he told McClain. “Don’t you have any regrets? You embarrassed your family.”
Then, looking at Nelson and pointing at McClain with his left hand, raised his voice angrily, “Please don’t ever let him out of jail! I want you not to pity him!”
“Piece of you-!” Tiffany repeated aloud as she briefly left the courtroom and returned.
Westbrook’s father, Orlando Westbrook, yelled at McClain, spoke briefly, and then, with his fist clearly clenched in anger, returned to a seat in the public gallery.
Her grandmother, Paula Shields, standing on a wooden barrier between the public gallery and the judge’s perch on the bench, said to McClain, “I have no words for you.”
“I’ll never be able to watch his wedding,” she said, “it’s painful every single day.”
The sixth and final speaker, attorney Audrey D. Shields, who described herself as A’tera’s great-aunt, called her “a smart, smart girl”. She was very intelligent.”
She said A’terra, who attended California State University East Bay, had recently received her nursing license and didn’t think she knew McClain.
“It’s terrifying, it’s the trauma that the murder has affected my family,” she said. “I want my niece to be remembered for all the good things she has done.”
In his final remarks in court, Sequeira said that “losing a child is the most painful thing that can happen to a human being. He has studied it.”
He portrayed A’tera Westbrook as “still a child” who had a “world of promise”, and questioned McClain’s actions, asking rhetorically, “What was it for?” and, shortly after, called him “a sociopath.”
“He has no remorse,” Sequeira said, “he never expressed remorse.”
“He should spend the rest of his life in prison,” he said, drawing applause from Westbrook’s family members.
Defense attorney David Nelson (no relation to the judge) said his client sought revenge for his brother’s death and admitted and pleaded for murder.
“To the extent that shows remorse,” Nelson said.
Allowed to speak, McClain said that he “took full responsibility for what I did,” then, taking a somewhat bitter tone, continued, “No one said a thing about my brother. His Mother had to suffer.”
Nelson told McClain in his final remarks that he would be on parole for the rest of his life. He also told McClain, “You had a choice” but that he committed a “silly, unforgivable crime”. You took the life of the lover of life, a young adult with a world of promise” ahead of him.
Officers arriving at the shooting site found Westbrook’s vehicle partially on the sidewalk, where it crashed into a light pole on Sperry Avenue. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
A customer at a nearby restaurant heard several gunshots at the time and saw “blue-grey Acura” down Sperry Avenue. According to court records, the suspected driver of that vehicle was Hill.
Hill and McClain were arrested in September 2016, more than a year after the shooting. McClain was arrested on September 7 during a traffic stop near Depot Street in Vacaville.
Following McClain’s arrest, an arrest warrant was issued for Hill, who surrendered himself to the police. He was the driver of the vehicle that drove McClain to the scene.
As the case made its way through the court system, Nelson first declined a request from Hill’s defense attorneys, Maher and Jessica Agnich (at the time) to quash the trials. Therefore the defendants were to be tried together.
The plea deals for the pair came more than two years after they appeared in court when Maher and Nelson questioned whether there was enough evidence against their clients to include special circumstances that investigators believed. that McClain was lying in wait before Westbrook was killed.
After hearing both sides, Nelson ordered defense attorneys and Sequeira to return for more proceedings.
The judge avoided questions from defense lawyers, saying that, ultimately, the allegation of lying, would be “a question for a jury.”
Maher said the end result would be “a dire decision”, as the special circumstances in the case would mean life in prison, with no possibility of parole for each person if convicted. The lawyers had earlier agreed that they would not seek the death penalty in the case.
Hill, noted Maher, was the driver of the vehicle and so, under Senate Bill 1437, signed into law in September 2018 by Governor Jerry Brown, a court can no longer hold accountable aides who killed someone during something serious. had no intention. Hooliganism, as in this case, murder allegedly committed by another person. In addition, the law is retroactive, meaning that people convicted of felony convictions under the old law can petition for their sentence to be reduced.