Family members of a slain man gave tearful pleas before a judge Friday begging for the murder to receive a maximum sentence of 48 years in prison.
Ray Saldivar received 38 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend's husband; not the maximum, but far above the minimum sentence of 16 years that he could have received. A jury convicted Saldivar of second-degree murder in July.
Oscar "James" Frias was shot to death outside a central Colorado Springs Dairy Queen on September 22 of last year. Saldivar fled the area and eluded police for almost two weeks before his alleged accomplice was pulled over near Palmer High School on October 5--with Saldivar in the car. Both Saldivar and driver Deirdre Dziuban were arrested. Dzubian was charged as an accessory to first-degree murder.
Julia Frias, the victim's wife, told 11 News she had dated Saldivar in the past. According to court documents, Saldivar was upset when he saw his ex-girlfriend at Dairy Queen with her husband.
Saldivar claimed self-defense, and Julia Frias told authorities that both men were shooting at each other. Witnesses who testified at the trial said they remembered hearing gunshots, but were unable to say who fired first.
In court Friday, the judge acknowledged that lingering confusion, saying that there were still questions as to who initiated the confrontation, and that he took that and the fact that both Saldivar and James Frias fired weapons into consideration when contemplating the sentencing.
Saldivar, who represented himself, maintained his innocence Friday, telling the judge that it was James Frias who confronted him with a gun, and that he [Frias] was not the victim. He claimed to have a good relationship with his ex, though it was revealed in court that Saldivar had five domestic violence cases against Julia Frias, which were dismissed because witnesses never showed up.
The judge said he agreed with the prosecution that Saldivar should be considered a danger to society, and said he considered Saldivar's violent history when determining the sentence. That history includes serving 16 years for shooting an unarmed man. The victim's father told the judge Friday that Saldivar was released from prison too soon and would never change.
Saldivar's lack of remorse also concerned the judge, who reminded Saldivar that he shot James Frias twice in the back after the victim had collapsed on the ground due to a fatal blow to the head.
The judge then expressed how serious taking a human life is no matter what the circumstances or how much bad blood exists between murderer and victim.
After receiving his sentence, Saldivar appeared for a new trial. The judge has yet to rule on that appeal.