A convicted murderer apologized to his victim’s family at a sentencing hearing on Monday in Pima County Superior Court.
“I pray for their family every night and every morning,” Keanu Deano Castaneda said. “I have a lot of love for you guys.”
Castaneda, 22, was convicted at trial in March of first-degree murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault in the drug-related killing of 17-year-old high-school senior Carlos Sandoval at a home on the far east side in Forty-Niner Country Club.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Teresa Godoy sentenced Casteneda to 25 years to life in prison for the murder, 10½ years for aggravated robbery and 7½ years for armed robbery. The prison terms will be served concurrently.
Castaneda and friends Jamonte Olague, Juliana Helene Olague, Michael Victor Olague and Frank Coronado Rios had planned to buy a pound of marijuana from Sandoval on Dec. 31, 2011. But the deal turned bad when Castaneda decided to rob Sandoval and pulled a gun, killing the teen in a struggle.
In an emotional statement at the sentencing, Sandoval’s mother, Caryl Sandoval, said she wants to help young people like Castaneda so they can realize paths out of lives of crime and violence.
“The only thing I can do now is help kids who are in Mr. Casteneda’s situation,” she said. “I wish I could have been there for him and my son a long time ago.”
Carlos Sandoval’s father, Steven G. Sandoval, said he grieves for his lost son every day. “The rest of my life will be like this,” he said.
Steven G. Sandoval said his son, a student at Salpointe Catholic High School, had been accepted at numerous universities, including Harvard.
“He didn’t even get the opportunity to graduate,” he said. “He never made it back from Christmas vacation.”
Castaneda’s attorney, Brick Storts, said his client was genuinely remorseful and has found religion while in jail.
Storts said the lack of a positive family environment while growing up had contributed to Castaneda’s long criminal history and escalating patterns of violence.