The man who was convicted of kidnapping and killing two Yolo County teenagers over a drug dispute was given life in prison without parole Thursday, but the sentence brought little relief for the mothers of the victims.
In an emotional hearing, the families of victims Elijah Moore and Enrique Rios challenged, cursed and condemned David Froste, the man who led a group of friends in the brutal slayings. In words raw with emotion and anger, they begged for a small mercy: for Froste to tell them where to find the boys’ remains.
“Where is my baby? Where’s his body? I want to bring him to the church, I want to bring him to the cemetery,” a sobbing Lydia Vicente, Rios’ grandmother, said pleading with Froste at the Yolo County Courthouse in Woodland. “Please, I beg you. Tell me, where is my baby? Please.”
Froste will likely die in prison for killing Rios and Moore weeks apart in October and November 2016, their bodies bludgeoned, shot, burned and buried somewhere on the remote riverbanks near Knights Landing known as “The Cuts.”
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Froste was sentenced on counts of first- and second-degree murder, plus special circumstances for committing the murders in the course of kidnapping the pair.
Froste was silent, his head bowed, his long hair tied into a tight bun as Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg meted out the sentence.
“I can’t give these families peace, but I can give them justice,” Rosenberg began. “That is what I will do today.”
During the trial, prosecutors said Rios was killed first, lured by Froste, Froste’s brother Jonathan and two others, Chandale Shannon and Jesus Campos, after Moore allegedly stole 3 ounces of marijuana from the crew. When Rios didn’t give up the location of his friend, he was shot to death and buried, his body soaked with gasoline and set alight.
The same crew led by Froste spotted Moore in downtown Woodland in early November 2016, a day after Elijah’s 17th birthday. Moore was forced into the trunk of a car and driven to the same spot where his friend’s life ended, according to testimony at trial. He pleaded with Froste for one last call to his mother to tell her he loved her, prosecutors said.
Froste, instead, told him to pray before shooting him. Froste and his crew then took turns bludgeoning the Woodland teen before burying and burning his body, completing the gruesome revenge killings.
“I tried to see some sort of remorse, some sort of soul in you, but there’s nothing. I don’t even know if you’re human. You beat my baby’s brains out. Then you set him on fire to cover up the evidence,” Alicia Moore, Elijah Moore’s mother, said of the son she called “my best friend.”
She directly addressed Froste, her anger barely contained in the still courtroom filled with the boys’ families. “You are a dirty (expletive) dog. I hate your guts. If we were in the same room together, I bet you I would rip your throat out. His only request was to call his mother. He asked you twice, David. You didn’t give him the opportunity to come back home.”
Moore bitterly promised Froste that he wouldn’t be able to hide from her behind bars.
“If I’m breathing, I’m there. Any parole hearings, any appeals you plan – I’m Elijah’s mother,” she said. “You were the ringleader who killed my son. I can’t stand you. My baby was loved.”
Lola Rios-Gutierrez, battling cancer, her body sapped by rounds of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries, said the pain doesn’t compare to losing her first-born son. Rios said she imagines her son’s fear in his final moments and lives her own every night.
“You made me a different person. I panic over everything and cry over nothing,” she said. “I feel his panic, the fear that he knows what’s coming to him. I see you shooting him in the head,” Rios said.
She finally appealed to Froste, himself a father of a young son, to look her in the eyes and lead the families to their boys’ graves.
“David, you’re a father, you have a son. Look at me. I am asking you as a parent, tell me where you left him. Tell me where you left his body. If you have any soul left in there, tell us where he is.”
Froste never moved.