A man who shot into a stranger’s car and killed a woman after he reportedly perceived a threat that wasn’t there will go to prison for the rest of his life, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled today.
A jury convicted Robert Vasquez Jr., 25, of first degree murder in the 2010 death of Madalene Thomas in Rancho Cordova. They also found true a special circumstance that he shot from a vehicle, which made him eligible for the life-without-possibility-of-parole sentence handed down by Judge Marjorie Koller.
During trial, Vasquez’s defense attorney argued that before the shooting, his client had been threatened and intimidated by gang members and bought a gun for protection. The night of Thomas’ death, Vasquez was in fear of his life, attorney Chris Cosca said.
Upon seeing Thomas’ car near the intersection of Explorer Drive and Greensboro Circle the night of Oct. 26, 2010, he thought the occupants signaled danger, Cosca said. He chased them and fired at his perceived threat. Instead, he shot and killed Thomas, 49, who had been driving her nephew home from visiting with relatives. She died at the scene.