Steve Zinda did and said the right things Friday, considering he'd been convicted of murdering a man by chopping him several times in the head and face with an ax.
He apologized, and he asked for forgiveness.
He also asked for leniency, but wound up getting the maximum sentence available to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller for his second-degree murder conviction last month.
It came out to 15 years to life in state prison, plus another year for his use of a deadly weapon.
"The seriousness of the circumstances of the offense itself can be described as nothing other than brutal savage," Koller said. "He's a danger to the community."
Zinda was convicted of second-degree murder for his March 20, 2011 attack on David Valdez in Rio Linda.
Zinda had driven home around 3 a.m. that morning to find that his house on Second Street was being burglarized. He grabbed an ax and ran into the street looking for suspects, when he came across Valdez, swigging from a half-gallon bottle of Captain Morgan and standing under a streetlight a few doors down. He had run his car into a ditch.
Authorities said Valdez, 20, had nothing to do with the burglary. But Zinda, 31, chased Valdez more than 1,000 feet down the street, over a fence and into a field, where he knocked Valdez to the ground and split his head open with the ax.
"It was a horrible day that will forever be etched into my mind," Zinda said, reading from a statement he penned to the court. He said his "decision" to chase down and kill Valdez "affected the lives of an unknown amount of people, two families that will forever be changed."
Zinda cried when he spoke about his own 4-year-old son. He said it has since dawned on him that Valdez "is somebody's son, also."
"All I can do is ask the Valdez family for forgiveness," Zinda said.
He told the judge he wasn't out on "no vendetta," that he had "no prior thought" about killing anybody. He said he was "acting on spur-of-the-moment passion," and he asked for leniency.
Valdez's mother, Maria Nunez, wept throughout her statement to the court. Half of it had to be read into the record for her.
"My son was an innocent young man with a future full of promise," Nunez said.
David Valdez graduated from Rio Linda High School in 2009, and had since applied for and posthumously was accepted into an electrician's training program. His friends and relatives wrote letters to the court speaking of his deep love for his closely knit family, made up of him, his mother and his baby sister, who is now 15.
"I just don't know how we're going to keep going," said Nunez, who has worked for 13 years making eyeglasses for Vision Service Plan in Rancho Cordova. "Every night before I go to sleep, I need to go to bed with one of David's shirts or a tank top, and I hug it, and cry by myself. That makes me go to sleep, because I really, really miss my boy."
Valdez's sister, Jessica Segoviano, said of Zinda's statement, "I think it's too late for an apology."
Zinda's probation report suggested he had a problem with his temper that went back at least a few years.
In 2009, Zinda, a graduate of Pacific High School, went to his ex-wife's house in Yuba City to pick up his son and saw the new man in her life carrying the boy, "which made him extremely angry," the probation report said.
"He started arguing with his ex-wife, called her names, hit her, pushed her and spit on her face," the report said. "This led to a physical altercation between the defendant and other man."
Convicted of misdemeanor battery, Zinda was ordered into a batterer's treatment program. He attended 26 classes. The facilitator of the program told the author of the probation report that Zinda could not talk about his wife "without bitterness or vitriol."
"He called her terrible names in class," the report said. "He was very angry that she refused to follow his rules about whom she can see and what she doesn't do and what he wants her to do."
The report said Zinda's juvenile record shows that criminal petitions were sustained against him for misdemeanor vandalism, petty theft and felony burglary. His adult record showed a conviction for misdemeanor petty theft.