Two people have been found guilty of first-degree murder in a local case from December 2013.
Investigators say Cosmen Alvarez shot and killed Jose Santos Villa at the Vagabond Inn in Southwest Fresno. Alvarez admits Villa once owed him more than $30,000 in cash — mostly for the 20 pounds of pot he says Villa owed him.
Alvarez left town with his girlfriend, Yolanda Aviles, who stood accused of helping her boyfriend. Police found the couple about a week later in Los Angeles.
Both Alvarez and Aviles were found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday.
They were convicted of killing Jose Santos Villa, 36, who was unarmed when he was shot seven times outside the Vagabond Inn near Highway 99 and Jensen Avenue on Dec. 22, 2013, prosecutor Sam Dalesandro told the jury.
The couple also was convicted of kidnapping Villa’s friend. Dalesandro said the couple held a gun to the friend’s head and ordered him to tell them of Villa’s whereabouts.
Superior Court Judge Denise Whitehead sentenced 35-year-old Cosmen Alvarez to 72 years to life in prison. His girlfriend, Yolanda Aviles, 48, was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison.
Prosecutor Sam Dalesandro said the couple deserved the maximum sentence because their crime involved great violence.