Killer Learns His Fate

Jurors sentence a killer for his role in the shooting deaths of two people during a holiday crime spree in 2006. 

Franko Bernal and Samuel McCauley Jr. were convicted on Feb. 11 of murder in the shooting deaths of a teenager and a convenience store clerk in 2006 near San Diego. Jurors convicted both men of two counts of murder and they faced either
the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Friday, a jury sentenced McCauley to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A separate jury announced Friday that it had deadlocked on a sentence for Bernal.

After the verdicts were announced, Bernal turned to the courtroom audience and said. "It doesn't matter. He's not coming back. Happy Thanksgiving."

Prosecutors said McCauley shot Daunte Mercado-Bates to death shortly after midnight on Thanksgiving 2006 in Murietta. Prosecutors said the next day, McCauley shot and killed Pedro Hernandez Vargas, a clerk at a 7-Eleven store in Lemon Grove. 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.

The dramatic surveillance tape of the convenience store robbery was shown in court. Along with physical evidence found at the scene, prosecutors told jurors they had admissions by McCauley about his role in the killing.

It not yet known what will happen with Bernal's sentencing. All parties will reconvene in court on March 20, at which time prosecutor james Romo will either ask a judge to sentence Bernal or ask the judge to convene a second jury for sentencing. That jury would rehear evidence presented in a mini-trial of sorts prior to passing sentence.

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