Killer Compares Himself to Batman's Robin

"Does Robin get power when Batman beats Joker? I don't think so. It takes one person to kill somebody."

This was the logic Franko Bernal used in his one chance to address Judge Allan Preckel before his sentencing Monday.

Bernal, 22, along with Samuel McCauley Jr., 25 will spend the rest of his life behind bars, without the possibility of parole, for a holiday killing spree that left two dead in November 2006.

The two killed 18-year-old Daunte Mercado-Bates in Murrieta and 54-year-old Pedro Hernandez-Vargas the next day at a 7-Eleven store in Lemon Grove.

McCauley was sentenced to life in prison March 13 without the possibility of parole. A separate jury announced the same day that it had deadlocked on a sentence for Bernal. Instead of seating a separate jury for his sentencing, both sides agreed the judge would make the decision.

When the pair was convicted on Feb. 11, Bernal turned to the courtroom audience where the victims' families sat and said, "It doesn't matter. He's not coming back. Happy Thanksgiving."

During his sentencing Monday, Bernal's statements took a much different tone. He turned to the families of the victim in the courtroom, and apologized for that comment.

He then went on to say he had nothing to do with the killings.

"It really doesn't take two people to kill somebody," he said. "Does Robin get power when Batman beats Joker? I don't think so. It takes one person to kill somebody."

"Mr. McCauley just didn't kill two people. He killed me. I'm over. It's done," he said.

While the judge announced his sentence, Bernal showed disbelief  -- talking to his attorney, shaking his head and even mouthing words to the cameras in court.

McCauley sat quietly showing no emotion.

Before the sentencing, Vargas's widow, Jacqu, addressed the court telling the men how they denied her husband the chance to know his grandchildren.

"You will deservedly live the rest of your life as caged animals," she said. "You will die in prison but that is when your real punishment will just be starting. Spending eternity in the fires of hell is a horrible ordeal but that is where condemned souls go."

Prosecutors said McCauley shot Mercado-Bates to death shortly after midnight on Thanksgiving 2006 in Murietta. Prosecutors said the next day, McCauley shot and killed Vargas. Andre Villaverde was shot in the case during that incident but lived to testify against the killers. Bernal was identified by Villaverde as his shooter.

When asked outside court about Bernal's comments, prosecutor James Romo called it typical behavior.

“Franko’s a liar. That’s the only way to say it. He’s a liar. The evidence is overwhelming. There is really no question. There’s nothing more to say about it,” said Romo.

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