Perhaps the most powerful statement made in Judge Michael A. Savage’s courtroom Thursday was the sound of about 40 feet walking out of it.
They belonged to the friends and family of Jessica Sanchez and they headed for the door when Terry Glenn Shorts, the convicted child sex murderer, rambled on at his sentencing hearing about the death of their loved one for which he was responsible.
A Sacramento Superior Court jury last month convicted Shorts, 43, of the Feb. 12, 1996, sexual molestation and shooting death of Jessica in Florin Creek Park. She was 13 years old.
Shorts eluded authorities until a DNA hit nabbed him in 2012.
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Before he sentenced Shorts to life in prison, Judge Savage asked Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall about the prospect under the state’s “three-strikes” law of imposing on the defendant two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I think one is fine,” Kindall said.
Also known in the courthouse computer as Terry Short, Shorts asserted a defense that he was having a consensual relationship with the girl.
Jessica’s relatives sat quietly for more than five minutes of Shorts’ monologue Thursday, and they even managed to maintain their silent eloquence as he again proclaimed his innocence.
It was when Shorts talked about how his own children don’t speak to him anymore because “they think I am guilty” that the Sanchez family had enough.
As they filed out of the courtroom, Shorts said, “I’d probably do the same.”
Six members of Jessica’s family sought to deliver victim impact statements to the court, but the girl’s mother and a couple other relatives were still so distraught nearly 19 years after the death that they could not complete their thoughts.
Silvia Brazell, a cousin of Jessica’s, summed up one of the emotions the family was feeling Thursday.
“I feel so happy we are here today and I won’t have to live my life feeling we didn’t get the justice she deserved,” Brazell said.
Savage thanked the family for its communications and said, “A murder of this magnitude is incalculably horrible. Nineteen years have passed and your grief stays with you as if the crime just occurred today.”
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.