Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A man who gunned down an off-duty bus driver after an argument at an El Cajon Boulevard taco shop 10 years ago was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years to life in state prison.

Santiago Covarrubias, 42, was convicted of first-degree murder in the March 20, 2007, death of 38-year-old Damon Green, who had two young sons.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Erickson said Covarrubias shot Green because he felt disrespected when the victim didn’t believe he was in a gang.

“It was a stupid thing for Covarrubias to do,” the prosecutor told Judge Kathleen Lewis.

Covarrubias was serving an 11-year manslaughter sentence for a 2001 killing when he was arrested in November 2015 for Green’s murder.

Green’s mother, Cybil, called her son a “gentle giant.”

“You murdered one man but you slaughtered a family,” she told the defendant. “Why did you do that to our family? You’re a monster, you’re a scum of the earth. May your soul rot in hell.”

San Diego police Detective Lori Adams testified during a preliminary hearing last year that a man who was with Covarrubias the night of the murder, 37-year-old Martin Villalpando, was arrested last July after tests revealed his DNA on items found in the taco shop in the 4000 block of El Cajon Boulevard.

Authorities arrested Covarrubias after detectives discovered a car sale transaction between his girlfriend and Villalpando, Adams testified.

The night of Green’s murder, a witness told police that Green and Covarrubias argued over what seemed like a drug deal, then Covarrubias and Villalpando left and returned to the taco shop about 10 minutes later.

Villalpando told police that Covarrubias was angry and felt like he was disrespected by Green, according to the Adams.

When the defendants came back to the taco shop, Green emerged from a nearby doughnut shop and said “Are you going to shoot me? Are you really going to shoot me?” according to the detective.

Villalpando told police that he saw Covarrubias pull something out of his waistband and Green was shot in the left thigh and buttocks. The leg wound turned out to be fatal.

Villalpando said Covarrubias told him that he didn’t mean to kill Green, but only wanted to show that he wasn’t a “punk or bitch,” according to Adams.

Villalpando pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday.

—City News Service