A judge on Tuesday sentenced a San Gabriel man to life in prison without parole for the 2016 fatal shooting of an El Monte Jack in the Box employee during a botched robbery.
On June 30, a jury found Louie Herrera guilty of the murder of 25-year-old Juan Vidal of El Monte with the special circumstance allegation that the killing was committed during an attempted robbery. They also found true the special allegation that he personally used a handgun in the crime.
Jurors also convicted the 27-year-old Herrera of four robberies and two attempted robberies in 2015. The businesses he hit were Takashima at 220 W. Valley Blvd #108 in San Gabriel, Subway at 1020 E. Valley Blvd in Alhambra and the CVS at 1485 E. Valley Blvd. in Alhambra. He robbed customers and employees, too.
In addition to the life sentence, Herrera received 25 years to life for using a gun to commit the murder.
He was also sentenced to 24 years for the robberies, attempted robberies and the gun use allegation related to those charges, according to Venusse Navid, a spokewoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
“I’m just glad justice was served on behalf of my son,” said Vidal’s mother, Mary Smay. “Nothing changed. But I know he will be in prison rotting away and not get out to hurt anybody else.”
Herrera’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Vidal was working at the Jack in the Box at 9220 Flair Drive the night of Oct. 21, 2016 when an armed man wearing a Stan the Man mask entered. The man, later identified as Herrera, jumped over the counter, demanded money and shot Vidal in the chest. Herrera left empty-handed.
Vidal, who died at a hospital, was engaged, just graduated pharmacy technician school and was looking forward to starting his new career, family members and investigators said. He was the only child of Smay.
Herrera got money as soon as he showed a gun in most of the other robberies, according to Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim.
This wasn’t the case during the attempted robbery at the Jack in the Box.
When a masked Herrera showed up, Kim believes Vidal thought it was a joke. Herrera was wearing a Halloween mask a week before Halloween, she added.
As soon as Vidal gave a nod and smiled, she said Herrera pulled the trigger. In her opinion, Herrera wanted to prove a point.
“It was entirely unnecessary and a product of the suspect’s ego,” Kim said.
Herrera bragged about himself weeks after the murder. He was arrested for vandalism and while in a holding cell said authorities should be more worried about him robbing and shooting people, Kim said. When Herrera was in the back seat of the patrol car, he admitted to a robbery where he netted a lot of money, she said.
Herrera didn’t testify in his trial and didn’t say anything at his sentencing, Kim said.
Tips from the public identified Herrera as the suspect. He was found in Alhambra while riding in a car and arrested on Jan. 9, 2017.
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