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Judge gives life sentences for murder of former gang member in front of son

Two reputed gang members were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday for the revenge fatal shooting in unincorporated Hayward in 2017 of a former gang member who had testified against several gang colleagues.

Pablo Mendoza, 27, of Hayward, and Brandon Follings, 28, were convicted last month of first-degree murder and of the special circumstance of murdering a witness for the shooting death of Daniel Deltoro, 29, of Hayward.

Deltoro was killed in the 200 block of Willow Avenue in the Cherryland neighborhood of Hayward at about 2:45 p.m. on July 19, 2017, while he was pushing his 3-month-old son in a stroller.

In addition, Follings and Mendoza were convicted of an enhancement that they committed the killing to benefit a criminal street gang. During their trial, Alameda County prosecutor Jimmie Wilson told jurors that Deltoro “was put on a bad news list and was red-lighted and targeted” because he had testified in 2015 in the trial of Joel Perry Jr., who he said was a member of the Decoto gang.

At an emotional hearing Thursday, Deltoro’s widow told Mendoza and Follings:

“I hope you all go to hell and have miserable lives.”

Deltoro’s wife said:

“My husband wasn’t perfect, but who is? He learned from his mistakes and was turning his life around and had talked to his parole officer about removing his gang tattoos.”

She said:

“Daniel was given a second chance at life but it was ripped away from him.”

Deltoro’s wife said:

“He was just a father walking his son and he didn’t think his life would end that day in front of our son.”

There was additional drama inside the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy when one of Deltoro’s family members or friends said something and one of Folling’s family members or friends responded by yelling at the man:

“If I see you outside, I’ll smoke you.”

Murphy cleared the courtroom and got that man’s name but let him go with a stern warning.

Perry was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder for a shooting at a Union City park in 2008 that left a 28-year-old man dead and another man seriously injured. Three other reputed gang members pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in that case.

Wilson said the 2008 case “had gone cold” but when Deltoro provided crucial information to Union City police, they were able to develop information that helped them put together their case against Perry and three associates.

Wilson alleged that Mendoza, who he said also belongs to the Decoto gang, never forgave Deltoro for coming forward and recruited Follings, who he said is a member of the Ice City gang in Oakland, to help him kill Deltoro.

Wilson told jurors:

“In the gang culture, you don’t testify against a gang member. What comes from that is violence or death.”

The prosecutor said Mendoza and Follings, who were in a car driven by 27-year-old Valeria Boden of Alameda, tracked down Deltoro on July 19, 2017, and Mendoza, who covered part of his face, got out of the car to shoot Deltoro but his gun jammed.

The two men struggled on the ground and Deltoro was able to get on top of Mendoza, Wilson said.

But Follings then got out of the car and shot and killed Deltoro in front of his infant son, Wilson said.

Boden is also charged with murder but she testified against Follings and Mendoza and is expected to get a favorable plea deal when she returns to court on Friday.

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