Defendant in Mare Killing Gets State Prison

One of the defendants convicted in the vehicular killing of a pensioned 23-year-old Thoroughbred mare in a Sonoma County, Calif., pasture in April 2003 has been sentenced to two years in state prison.

Liobijildo Guzman Herrera, 22, who pleaded guilty in February to a felony for the intentional killing of Gentle Song, hit-and-run driving, trespassing and other charges, could be eligible for parole in four to eight months, according to prosecutor James Patrick Casey of the Sonoma County district attorney's office. Herrera and his accomplice, Noel Guido-Silva, 19, have been in custody since their arrest in June following an informant's tip.

Guido-Silva, who was recently convicted by a Superior Court jury, faces sentencing April 21.

According to testimony at his trial,  Herrera and Guido-Silva broke into the gated pasture of Kunde Winery in Kenwood during a night of drinking April 27 and chased down the mare with their vehicles. Herrera, driving a Chevrolet Blazer, struck Gentle Song from behind, and she then crashed into a Toyota Supra driven by the second defendant, suffering head injuries that killed her a short time later.

An informant led investigators to the men, who fled the scene, after a $20,000 reward offer for information was made.

Casey expressed satisfaction with the sentence against Herrera,  passed down by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Antolini.

"In most jurisdictions this would have been passed off as a misdemeanor," Casey said. "Judge Antolini expressed some righteous indignation at what happened. He agreed that state prison was warranted."

Herrera's attorney, Jeff Mitchell, had asked for leniency, citing the fact that the defendant was inebriated, unaware of the laws in the United States (he and Guido-Silva are Mexican nationals) and acted without premeditation.

Antolini dismissed those contentions, noting that the defendants went to considerable lengths to cover up their act, including repair of their vehicles' dents.

"You don't have to be able to dance a waltz to be sophisticated," the judge told the court.