Killer sentenced to life

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Robert Macias and his attorney, James Klipstine Jr., confer Tuesday before Macias was sentenced.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

While the daughter he never met cooed quietly in her mother’s arms, the mother of Wilfred Salas Jr. asked a Clovis judge to give her son’s killer the maximum sentence afforded by law.

“Your honor, I don’t know what kind of journey life has for (Robert Macias) but like they say, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” Velma Valdez said, addressing District Judge Joe Parker Tuesday afternoon.

After listening to family victim impact statements and arguments from attorneys, Parker sentenced Macias, 31, to life plus 22 years, the maximum sentence allowed.

Under state law, Macias will be eligible for parole in 52 years.

Salas, 19, was killed by a single gunshot to the head in the early morning hours of Jan. 15, 2006, as he drove on Merriwether Street.

In January a Curry County jury found Macias guilty of first-degree murder and shooting at a motor vehicle causing great bodily harm.

“The thing I miss most about him is his laugh, his smile and the word ‘Mom’ coming from his mouth,” Valdez said.

Kathy Baca spoke to the judge on behalf of her daughter, Vanessa Baca, Salas’ girlfriend and mother of his only child.

She said her daughter and Salas had planned to break the news they were expecting a baby to her and her husband the weekend he was killed.

It was supposed to be a special weekend for them, she said.

“I was stunned and saddened, not only for my daughter but also for his family,” Baca said, her voice broken and shaky.

“My daughter lost her one and only love. Wilfred never had a chance to touch or hold his baby girl or see how beautiful she is today.”

The results of a diagnostic evaluation conducted on Macias by the Department of Corrections revealed he was without remorse, consistently fails to conform to social norms, blames others for his shortcomings and rationalizes criminal and violent situations, District Attorney Matt Chandler told the court.

“He’s a danger to society, he’s a threat to the community,” Chandler said. “Your honor, he’s a convicted murderer.”

Defense attorney James Klipstine argued that what has been interpreted as a lack of remorse has been confused with arguing his innocence.

Klipstine mentioned the testimony of trial witness Daniel Garcia, who admitted shooting at Salas’ car with Macias.

He stressed he believes it was a miscarriage of justice Macias was the only one charged with murder when another man admitted to shooting at Salas’ car.

“The thing that sticks in my craw is letting one guy go who shot at the car and could possibly have shot (Salas) — that’s not justice, that’s just not fair,” he said.

No witnesses were called on Macias’ behalf.

Parker told the courtroom he believed the jury had ample opportunity to hear the evidence and testimony in the case and said he was confident in their decision.

“I don’t find a reason, nor do I believe there is a reason (to reevaluate the testimony),” Parker said.

“Mr. Macias, good luck to you,” Parker said as Macias was led from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies.

“Good luck to you,” Macias replied.