Kelly Hunt’s family read victim impact statements to a packed courtroom Monday morning before Judge Brian Hill sentenced Eastside gang associate Isaac Jimenez, 25, to life in prison without parole for the murder of the 23-year-old Ventura gang member. On the night of February 19, 2013, Jimenez and 22-year-old Eastside gang member Joseph Castro shot Hunt four times from behind while the three were walking on Olive Street. Jimenez and Castro were both found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and lying in wait.
In one statement, the victim’s uncle John Hunt remembered his nephew as “a bright, hardworking, caring individual” who “was very misunderstood.” Prosecutor Kim Siegel characterized Hunt’s killing as a “brazen act of violence.” “But for Isaac Jimenez’s actions, we probably wouldn’t be sitting in this courtroom.”
As he issued Jimenez the maximum sentence, Hill called the defendant’s act a “premeditated” and “execution-style murder” in which the “victim was defenseless and taken totally by surprise.” His words echoed the victim impact statement of Hunt’s grandfather Tom Hunt, who told Jimenez — present in jail clothing — to “do good” with the rest of his life in prison. For personally and intentionally firing the gun at hunt, Jimenez received a consecutive sentence of 25 years to life in prison. He was ordered to pay over $23,000 in restitution to Hunt’s family.
Jimenez’s defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu implied he would be appealing his client’s conviction. In a previous interview with The Santa Barbara Independent, Funke-Bilu declined to elaborate on the specifics other than that the appeal would be based on problematic pretrial motions and “issues at the trial itself.”
Both Jimenez and Castro face charges for unrelated attempted murder after Castro allegedly shot a gun provided by Jimenez at a group of Westside gang members two weeks before Hunt’s killing, as previously reported in The Independent. Represented by defense attorney Doug Hayes, Jimenez pleaded no contest and was sentenced to five years in state prison to be served consecutively.
Siegel praised an “exceptional job” done by law enforcement officials who spent over six months investigating the case. Following more than three and a half months of trial, the “jury made a just” and appropriate verdict, she told The Independent immediately after Jimenez’s sentences.
Castro, who appeared in court briefly on Monday with his attorney Michael Hanley, will be sentenced on April 5.