By Taylor Smith
WOODLAND, CA – A Yolo County Judge on Friday sentenced a man to 20 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge despite the evidence that he was not the actual killer.
The family of a gun violence victim passionately urged a Yolo County Superior Court judge late last week to levy a heavier sentence against an accused to make a stand against gun violence.
The judge ultimately determined Jose Tellezflores, Jr., would serve two consecutive sentences—an indeterminate 15 years on his second-degree murder charge as well as five years on another charge of attempted murder.
Despite Friday’s very full court calendar, Judge Dave Rosenberg allowed six family members of the victim of the murder from May of 2021. The court heard from the victim’s mother, brother, aunt, and cousin; two more statements from family members not present in the court were read by a representative from the DA’s office.
The brother of the victim spoke first, feeling strongly that Tellezflores should spend the rest of his life in prison.
He said “they took my childhood away from me,” of Tellezflores and the other people involved in the incident, as he explained the empty feeling he has every day knowing his sister was taken.
“My family will never see [the victim] as long as we live, so his family shall never see Jose Tellez until his death date appears, and in my eyes that is not even close to being fair,” he added.
The brother finished by stating he has to be strong for the nine-month-old daughter that the victim left behind.
“Because of Jose Tellez, I have to go to sleep every night holding my sister’s daughter, and it crushes my heart knowing that her mother will not be coming home,” he said before remarking that he never wants to know the accused is roaming freely in the place where he will raise the victim’s daughter.
Next, the victim’s aunt spoke passionately to the court. She illustrated the horror of receiving the phone call that her loved one was murdered. She told the court that this fight has been so hard on their family that her mother—the victim’s beloved grandmother—passed away from a stroke.
“I think the footage from what happened that day, from court, was too much on my mom,” she explained.
After explaining the feelings she felt personally, she used this time to advocate for justice on a broader scale, begging the court to impose a stricter sentence on the accused, and noting, “I fear with the way the judicial system treats these murderers, he will be released and will do it again.”
She recalled seeing not an ounce of emotion on Tellezflores’ face when the verdict was initially read, noting, “He was the most responsible for providing the vehicle of transportation to commit murder. The fact that his brother is the murderer and that his father lied under oath for his sons speaks volumes of this family.
“Please be a part of the change,” she implored the court, adding that “this violence will never stop unless the judicial system hands down harder sentences.”
The victim’s cousin then explained how the process of this trial over the past year has been taxing on their entire family when all they want is justice and healing.
The cousin said, “We have been forced to relive the trauma throughout this entire trial. We have watched the evidence show [the victim] scared and fleeing for her life and how terrifying it must have been for her as she desperately tried to survive.
“We were shown photos of her completely lifeless and left to die like she was nothing, as if her life didn’t matter, and we were shown footage of suspects leaving the scene to continue on with their lives as if they didn’t just take hers,” she said.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to think that this man will someday walk free and I fear for his release because no family should ever have to deal with the same pain and emptiness we have,” she said, asking Judge Rosenberg to hold Tellezflores accountable for his actions and decisions by giving him the maximum sentence.
In a statement later read by a representative from the District Attorney’s office, another cousin of the victim explained the victim was not the victim, but the reckless actions of those involved in the violence took her cousin as collateral damage.
Finally, the court heard from the emotional mother of the victim; she was barely able to get her words out.
Judge Rosenberg thanked the family for their courage and strength. “I hope the family finds peace and closure,” he said, “[the victim] left you a gift. She left you her daughter. You’ll take care of her.”
He then turned to Defense Attorney Jesse Ortiz and Tellezflores.
Ortiz began by explaining the accused was only 21 years old at the time of the murder and had no prior criminal record. He explained that the experience of this incident has been “overwhelming” to Tellezflores; he was quick to follow this statement with a disclaimer that he was not comparing the experience of the accused to that of the family of the victim.
“Mr. Tellez sits here stoic, with an apparent lack of emotion. It is not because he doesn’t feel bad for the family. It’s not because he doesn’t feel bad for what happened to [the victim] and her family,” he explained after hearing all of the victim’s family members explain how they have yet to feel an ounce of remorse from Tellezflores.
Ortiz argued the accused “was not found by this jury to have been the actual killer of [the victim] nor did her ever have any intent that she be killed or harmed in any way, but the jury’s verdict was that he was guilty of second degree murder,” he said. “We do not agree with it but we understand it.”
Ortiz noted his client was only found guilty of driving, rather than a malicious attempt at murder. He also claimed that there were not multiple separate acts taken by the accused.
“This happened in a split second,” he said, concluding that as it was only one event, the two terms sentenced for the second degree murder and the attempted murder must be served concurrently rather than consecutively.
Deputy District Attorney Preston Schaub said, “There were multiple shots fired from multiple people from inside the vehicle. To categorize this as one action that took one second is not the real picture here. This was an intentional act. It required some planning. It required them to pursue the targets.”
He then reminded the court of the accused’s “history involving firearms previously with law enforcement,” and “during the course of the investigation when we started to receive DNA hits in this case in firearm ballistics, we received a match to that same firearm that was used in this homicide to be linked to a second shooting that happened prior to it, and witnesses in those cases described the same vehicle being driven as the vehicle that was driven in this case.”
DDA Schaub concluded his argument by saying, “I believe that there is a pattern of conduct here that shows a propensity towards violence.”
Judge Rosenberg ruled that “the evidence shows a complete reckless disregard for human life,” and agreed with Defense Attorney Ortiz the indeterminate sentence on the murder should be reduced from 25 years to life down to 15 years to life.
The judge then determined that, given the second victim on the second count of attempted murder, he would run a five-year sentence consecutively rather than concurrently, despite the defense attempts to evade such a consequence.
Tellezflores will be serving the remainder of his sentence in state prison, and will be participating in substance abuse counseling while in custody.