They batted around the word "obvious" outside the courtroom Tuesday as in, there was no question about the verdict that took very little time for a Sacramento jury to reach in finding Juan Carlos Orozco guilty in the Aug. 26, 2010, torture-and-robbery murder of Galen Joseph May.
Jurors began deliberations at 9 a.m. and had guilty verdicts 2 1/2 hours later on all four counts against Orozco, 23.
Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall scheduled his sentencing for April 19. That will be another proceeding with a fairly obvious outcome: life in prison with no chance of parole.
Orozco, a meth user whose girlfriend had just kicked him out of their house, went upstairs in the minutes after his ejection to push into May's place in the North Country Vista Apartments on Watt Avenue in Antelope. It was 1 o'clock in the morning, and May, 69, a retired thoroughbred trainer who in his day helped prepare three horses for the Kentucky Derby, had just arrived home after a quick stop at a nearby Circle K.
Looking for fast money, Orozco tied up May hand and foot with electric cords. He fastened two plastic bags over his head. He retrieved a flat-headed screwdriver and poked 22 holes in May's face, neck and chest in an apparent attempt to get him to give up the code to his ATM card. When May didn't, he wrapped a belt around May's neck and cinched it as tight as he could.
Along with the asphyxiation murder, jurors found the special-circumstance allegations that Orozco killed for robbery and inflicted torture to be true. Those findings qualify Orozco for the no-parole life term.
"I'm glad the jury rendered the right decision," said Will May, of Seattle, the victim's brother. Orozco "obviously was guilty, and the only thing that surprised me was how quick the decision was. But when things are obvious, you make a quick decision."
The jury forewoman, who did not give her name, said of the case, "The evidence was pretty obvious."
Orozco last week took the witness stand in his own defense. He testified that he found the keys to May's car in the parking lot and was only returning them, despite it being past midnight, when he looked inside and saw that the man was dead. Then he stole May's car, used May's ATM card for a couple of purchases and took off for Salinas and then Delano, where he was arrested a week after the killing.
"We found him to not be credible at all," the jury forewoman said. "We felt like he was pretty much lying the whole time, or most of the time."
A good half-dozen or more friends and family of May attended every day of the trial.
"I just keep hearing how tender and gentle this victim was with people, with his family, with the horses he trained," Deputy District Attorney Hilary Bagley Franzoia said, after the verdict.
"It was unanimous. People had nothing but positive things to say about him.
"He didn't deserve one second of what he endured at the hands of this defendant. It was brutal as brutal as it gets. I'm happy the jury did the right thing."
Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.