Judge calls cop-killer's wife 'active participant' in crime spree
Janelle Monroy, the wife of convicted cop killer Luis Bracamontes, was sentenced Friday to what amounts to a life sentence in the October 2014 crime spree that killed two Sacramento-area deputies and spawned more than three years of circus-like court proceedings.
After nearly an hour of emotional testimony from her victims, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White sentenced Monroy to 24 years and 10 months on various counts to be served before a 25 years to life sentence in the murder of Placer sheriff's Detective Michael Davis Jr.
Monroy, 41, was found guilty Feb. 15 of murder and nine other counts for her role in the crime spree, including the shooting death of Davis by her husband.
“Ms. Monroy, you did not start this reign of terror, but you joined in immediately after as an active participant,” White said in imposing his sentence.
White rejected arguments from defense attorney Pete Kmeto that Monroy was a battered wife and victim of her husband, who "was armed to the teeth and raving about killing people."
"She's not the person who killed law enforcement officers," Kmeto said, noting that Monroy never pulled a trigger during the crime spree.
"This client is not an evil person, this client has been victimized and has had a tough life," Kmeto said, arguing that her sentences should be served concurrently.
Sacramento prosecutor Rod Norgaard rejected that argument, telling the judge that Monroy knew before the rampage that her husband wanted to kill police officers.
"She did not commit a crime with the devil," Norgaard said. "She married him."
The sentencing came after victim impact statements that included tearful pleas that Monroy never be allowed to leave prison.
Davis' 24-year-old daughter, Samantha, said Monroy "took away my best friend, my rock, my dad."
"All I have left is the memories of my dad," she said through tears.
Davis' brother Jason, also a Placer deputy, talked of how depressed he was after the death of a brother he idolized, and how his faith in God eventually led him to the point where he could pray for the couple who killed him.
And Debbie McMahon, Davis' mother, reminded Monroy of the pain she has caused so many, a statement that finally drove Monroy to emotional sniffles.
"I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest," McMahon told her.
Placer Sheriff Devon Bell sat through the court session in the front row, and said afterward that he "thought the sentence was entirely appropriate."
"She has to be held accountable for her own actions," Bell said. "She has to be responsible, and I think the judge made the right call."
Although Monroy was never accused of firing a weapon during the daylong rampage, she helped move her husband's AR-15 rifle from vehicle to vehicle as he carjacked their way from Sacramento to Auburn, where Davis was killed in a firefight with Bracamontes.
Monroy surrendered to deputies at the scene, and Bracamontes was later found hiding in a house not far from the scene of the shootout.
Monroy's attorney had portrayed her as a victim of an abusive, threatening husband whose methamphetamine abuse contributed to the outbreak of violence.
Prosecutors argued that she was a willing accomplice and the CEO of the family. As part of the prosecution, they showed jurors videos of the couple from gas stations and a motel where they appeared to be hugging and caressing each other in the days before the slayings as they made their way from Salt Lake City to Sacramento.
Unlike her husband, who routinely disrupted court proceedings with profane outbursts and threats to kill more deputies, Monroy sat meekly during most court sessions, sometimes weeping at the descriptions of the violence.
Bracamontes, an illegal immigrant from Sinaloa, Mexico, became a symbol of the national immigration debate, with President Donald Trump and others singling him out as a reason for building Trump's proposed border wall.
Bracamontes, 38, was found guilty Feb. 9 on all counts he faced, including the slayings of Davis and Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Danny Oliver.
He cheered "Yay" when the verdicts were announced, then promised, "I'm gonna kill more cops soon" as he was escorted back to jail.
His public defenders have never challenged the fact that he was guilty of the murders, but have brought in a parade of relatives as witnesses they hope will convince the jury that he deserves life without parole rather than a death sentence.
Bracamontes made a brief appearance in court Friday afternoon before his wife was sentenced, affirming to the judge that he did not want to exercise his right to testify.
"Yeah, that's right," he said before being taken away to jail.
Closing arguments in his case are set for Monday.