May 30, 2024
Juan Garcia and his 12-year-old son, Albert Garcia, went to a graduation party held in the backyard of a Montebello home.

A judge on Tuesday sentenced a Montebello man to 57 years for shooting to death a father and son at a 2008 graduation party in Montebello and for trying to kill a gang member about two blocks away.

Joe Dorantes received 15 years to life for each murder and 27 years for the attempted murder, Deputy District Attorney Luke Sisak said. The court also ordered Dorantes to pay restitution of about $32,000, he said.

“This is something that has been a long time coming,” Sisak said.

Dorantes, 38, didn’t speak at his sentencing held at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, according to his attorney, Daniel A. Nardoni, and the prosecutor.

Nardoni explained that his client got seven years for the attempted murder plus 20 years for a gun allegation.

Dorantes has to serve the 27 years, then the murder sentences, Nardoni said. He asked the court to have the murder sentences run concurrently but the judge decided they will be served consecutively, Nardoni said. The court also denied the defense motion for a new trial.

Dorantes was tried twice for the June 21, 2008 fatal shootings of Juan Garcia, 44, of Perris and Albert Garcia, 12, of Hemet.

The first jury in 2017 found Dorantes guilty of the attempted murders of two people at the party and the attempted murder of Marcus Vera a couple blocks away. But the court declared a mistrial when the jurors couldn’t decide on the murder charges.

Two of the attempted murder convictions were later overturned on appeal.

Dorantes was tried again for the murders. On Jan. 24, the second jury convicted him of two counts of second-degree murder.

Juan Garcia, his son and his fiancee were guests at the party which was held in a backyard in the 100 block of East Madison Avenue.

Members of the Southside Montebello gang and a tagging crew had a fight in front of the house earlier. A gang member hit Angel Sosa, Dorantes’ nephew, on the head with a bottle, court records show. Sosa and his friends left. Someone from their group said, “We will be back.”

A couple of gang members stayed at the party.

Dorantes went there looking for the Montebello gang members, Sisak said in an earlier interview.

“He was looking for anybody who qualified as an enemy,” the prosecutor said.

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A victim told police Dorantes and his companion pointed at the two gang members who were in the backyard, according to court records.

There were two shooters, authorities said.

“To a lot of people it was the worst day of their lives,” Sisak said.

Albert Garcia and his father were both shot in the chest. One man had a graze wound to his hip, a woman was struck in the arm and another person was grazed by a bullet, according to court records.

Angel Sosa, then a minor, was tried as an adult in 2010 for the shootings. Jurors acquitted him of the double murders and found him not guilty of assault with a firearm on another person at the party.

Dorantes was arrested in 2012.