Isaac Donez

Isaac Donez was murdered by Santiago in a 2011 Lemoore shooting.

HANFORD — Santiago Zamora was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison Friday for the murder of a man in 2011. 

Zamora, 26, was arrested in October 2015 for the homicide of 22-year-old Isaac Donez.

“We are so grateful for the prosecutor, the jurors and the judge for finally giving us the justice Isaac deserved,” said Donez’s aunt, Rosalinda Rossel. “We are truly happy with the sentence.”

Donez and his brother confronted Zamora at a Lemoore home on Nov. 28, 2011 about rumors that Zamora was abusing his girlfriend, who was related to Donez, according to a past article from The Sentinel.

The confrontation turned into an argument. Zamora produced a gun and Donez stepped between the weapon and his brother.

When Donez turned around to tell his brother to leave, Zamora shot him multiple times. He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Zamora fled to Mexico immediately after the murder. In 2015, authorities discovered he was living in Armona under an alias and were able to take him into custody. 

The trial was repeatedly delayed for almost four years because of the defense, said Assistant District Attorney Phil Esbenshade in a previous Sentinel article.

There were numerous requests for additional ballistics testing and to continue the case because the defendant’s attorney, Roger Nuttall, had other matters scheduled for trial.

Jury selection finally began July 1 and the trial lasted about two weeks. It took the jury about three days to come to a decision: Santiago was guilty of second-degree murder, with enhancements. 

The defense tried to get the enhancements removed but was unsuccessful, Rossel said.

Kings County Superior Court Judge Robert Burns sentenced Zamora to 40 years to life at Wasco State Prison. The defense filed a motion for a new trial but it was denied, Esbenshade said. 

Zamora has the possibility of parole after serving his full term. 

Donez came from a large family and wanted a big family of his own, Rossel said. He was a student at the Institute of Technology in Clovis, aspiring to become an HVAC technician. 

“We are in awe of how it all came out and truly grateful to all who were involved in helping convict Santiago,” Rossel said. “We can now move forward (while) never forgetting who Isaac was and still is to us.”

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