Robert Ibarra, convicted last year in the 2004 murder of Elias Silva, was sentenced Monday afternoon to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentencing was more of a formality — it was the only possible penalty Ibarra could receive — but came only after a lengthy argument from Ibarra’s defense counsel that he should receive a new trial.
The judge, after listening to testimony, ultimately denied the motion of defense attorney Robert Sanger, who didn’t represent Ibarra at trial. The Silva family, which has been steadfast for eight years in appearing for every court hearing related to their loved one’s death, was finally able to address their relative’s killer.
Silva’s mother told Ibarra he had committed a senseless act. “Do you know how a parent is affected when they lose a child?” Suzy Silva asked. She told Ibarra that Elias was the father of three children and that he will not be able to watch one of his sons play football, or walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, or watch his other son grow up to be a man. “You took all that away from our family,” she said.
Ibarra, however, maintained his innocence. “As you are hurting, I am hurting,” Ibarra told Suzy. “I am innocent of this crime they are saying I did.” Judge Brian Hill, however, said the evidence against Ibarra was overwhelming. “This is a vicious crime, and this sentence is completely warranted,” he said.
The murder conviction came with three enhancements — lying in wait, personally using a knife, and committing the crime for the benefit of a street gang. Silva was stabbed 48 times, including in his heart, jugular vein, stomach, back of head, and face. Joshua Miracle was sentenced to death by a jury in 2006 for his participation in the killing and currently sits on Death Row. He pleaded guilty to the murder. Ibarra had been facing the death penalty himself, but the District Attorney’s Office announced last year it was no longer seeking the death sentence.
Another man, Robert Galindo, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for his role in the incident, testified against Ibarra, saying Ibarra and Miracle had him call Silva and convince him to come over to the apartment they were in. Ibarra’s fingerprints were found on a knife left at the scene, and he was captured on surveillance tape purchasing gloves, duct tape, and a tarp from Home Depot.
Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Smith also pointed to the fact that Ibarra and Miracle were arrested in Silva’s car the day after the murder in San Diego as evidence of their guilt. During her closing arguments to the jury last year, she also reiterated that Ibarra had allegedly warned a teenager near the scene that “something bad is going to happen here.”