Jose Nunez Torres, 23, was also given a consecutive sentence of 24 years and eight months in prison for the La Jolla burglary and robbery of Robert Hill in his home plus other charges of auto theft, burglary, and evading police officers.
Gustavo Ceron, 27, was with Torres during the Hill robbery and he was sentenced Nov. 9 to five years in state prison by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin.
Torres, who had previously worked in restaurants in Pacific Beach, was found guilty of first-degree murder of Leticia Arroyo, 34, who was shot in the head in her Santee home on Oct. 4, 2016.
Ceron, who previously worked at the Hilton Hotel in La Jolla, was not involved in the homicide and he testified against Torres in his trial in reference to the Hill robbery.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber told the judge Ceron “helped this jury understand” the crimes committed by Torres. Koerber said Ceron was truthful and had only met Torres a day before Hill was robbed on Oct. 12, 2016.
Ceron was given credit of already serving 747 days in jail, so the two years in custody will be deducted from his five-year term. Kirvin fined him $1,724.
Ceron testified Torres was driving around La Jolla and saw an open window in Hill’s home in the 7900 block of Avenida Alamar. Torres cut the kitchen window screen and let Ceron through the front door.
Robert Hill wrote a letter to the judge saying “we did beef up our security system” afterwards. He said he was robbed of $17 in cash and credit cards.
“So many friends and neighbors went into panic mode and got more security,” wrote Hill, who added that they now close their windows.
Hill wrote one of the two men held a gun to his head, but he was thankful that he and his wife were not physically harmed.
Ceron pleaded guilty to armed robbery of Hill. The judge imposed four years for the hold-up plus one year for using a gun.
“He decided he wanted to help,” said Ceron’s attorney, Andrew Flores, who said “he accepted responsibility.”
Rosanna Reyes, the murder victim’s mother, told the judge she was thankful that Ceron decided to testify against Torres and that he showed remorse.
Torres accumulated 757 days in jail since his arrest, but he won’t get credit for serving them because his sentence is life without parole. The jury also convicted Torres on Sept. 14 of the special circumstances of murder during a robbery, burglary, and while lying in wait.
Arroyo was robbed of four methamphetamine baggies. Torres was driven away by a getaway driver who was unaware of the murder. The driver was sentenced Nov. 9 to a year in jail for being an accessory after the fact.
Torres was ordered to pay $4,250 to two people whose cars were stolen and damaged. He was fined $11,518.