PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - Dressed in shirts honoring their slain family member, relatives of Isaiah Vialpando were present to hear the sentencing of the man who mistook Vialpando for someone else when he shot and killed him.
Leo Montoya was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday for the September 2015 murder. Vialpando was shot and killed as he drove his silver BMW in the 200 block of Court Street. It was the second of two shootings where a man driving a silver BMW was shot in a three-day time period in the city. Investigators believe the shootings were a case of mistaken identity as Montoya was searching for the person who shot and paralyzed him. Montoya went out seeking revenge on people who were driving the same type of vehicle as the man who shot him. Investigators believe Vialpando was an innocent bystander targeted just for the type of car he was driving.
"We just didn't understand who would have shot our son," explained Vialpando's father Robert Cordova following the sentencing. "After the investigation went through, we couldn't believe it was just because of his vehicle and he resembles a gang member. He [Montoya] was after a gang member and apparently he was so afraid of this gang member that he didn't even check to see who he was shooting, and he shoots my son."
Vialpando's family wasn't pleased with the plea agreement Montoya accepted so he could be eligible for parole in less than 10 years.
"My son is dead, and we got the life sentence," Cordova said. "He didn't get the life sentence -- all of our family has to deal with this every single day."
Vialpando was a college student at the time of his death. His family says he wasn't involved in gangs, drugs or anything illegal during his short life.
"We know he's in heaven that's the one thing that will always make us smile," Cordova said.