Man sentenced to three years in prison following 2022 death of father in Pueblo

A man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for the 2022 death of his father.

Paul Sandoval Sr., 42, pleaded guilty in July to criminally negligent homicide, a Class 5 felony, in the death of his 90-year-old father, Benny Sandoval.

Sandoval will also be required to serve a two-year period of parole upon his release and will be required to pay an as-yet-undetermined amount of restitution to the victim’s family. He was given 170 days of pre-sentence confinement credit.

The charges stem from an incident in which Sandoval “slammed” his father into the ground during a physical confrontation on Sept. 8, 2022.

When contacted by investigating sheriff’s deputies, Benny Sandoval declined to press charges against his son. Later the same day, family members called 911 because they believed he was having a stroke. He was taken to an area hospital and later flown to a Colorado Springs hospital with a brain bleed. On Sept. 27, he was put in imminent hospice care due to rapid decline and died on Sept. 30.

Sandoval admitted in court during Friday’s sentencing hearing he caused the death of his father.

Judge Amiel Markensen raised concerns that during a pre-sentence investigation, Sandoval blamed his son, saying that the teenager had set him up to “try to get him out of the way for his money.”

During the pre-sentence interview, Sandoval claimed that his father had hit his head on the dashboard of a pick-up truck that his teenage son was driving sometime after the incident, which he blamed as the cause of Benny Sandoval’s death.

However, Jonah Wexler, an attorney for the public defender’s office who represented Sandoval in the case, said those statements were a result of defensiveness by Sandoval and that Sandoval accepted his guilt.

“It was hard to admit to anyone, even himself, that he caused the death of his father,” Wexler said.

Wexler stated that Sandoval did not intentionally cause the death of his father, whom he stated Sandoval loved and would never intentionally harm.

Sandoval stated in court that he recanted the statements he made during the pre-sentence investigation. He said that during that interview, “almost all that came out of his mouth was anger.”

In victim impact statements given to the court by Benny Sandoval’s family members, some said that they did not agree with the plea agreement and felt Sandoval should serve at least 10 years in prison.

A granddaughter of the victim recounted how Benny Sandoval was only able to meet his newborn great-granddaughter once before he passed, “not knowing that would be the only time he would see her.”

The granddaughter expressed grief that her daughter would not grow up remembering Benny Sandoval and vowed to teach her children what a “great man” he was.

Deputy District Attorney David Dingess asked the judge for a prison sentence of three years, the maximum allowable per the plea deal made with Sandoval. Dingess stated that the pre-sentence investigation report placed Sandoval at the “highest tier of risk” for reoffending. Dingess also expressed concern with Sandoval’s statements blaming his teenage son.

Wexler told the court that Sandoval had developed a problem with drinking following a traumatic injury in which he lost a leg below the knee in a work-related incident. Sandoval took to “self-medicating” after the incident, Wexler said, leading to run-ins with law enforcement, at least one DUI, the dissolution of his marriage, and damage to family relationships.

Wexler stated that despite his problem with alcohol, Sandoval had no felony convictions and was not a career criminal.

Sandoval declined to make a statement to the court, although he relayed through his lawyer that he loved his father and did not mean to hurt him.

Tenth Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner explained that the plea deal was offered despite family objections due to the difficulty of proving to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the injury that led to Benny Sandoval’s death was specifically caused by Paul Sandoval.

“Based on our information that the victim suffered an independent head injury, that he frequently suffered from what the family referred to as ‘strokes,’ his history of drinking alcohol and chewing tobacco, and the fact that there is a recanting witness, I believed and authorized a plea to (Class 5 felony) criminally negligent homicide, as the appropriate charge,” Chostner told the Chieftain in an emailed statement.

“The plea is consistent with the medical evidence supporting the charge. While the family appeared in court on the day of the plea and asked Judge Markenson to reject the plea, he found the plea was appropriate and accepted it,” Chostner said.

More public safety news: Pueblo West amateur MMA fighter arrested for alleged kidnapping, attempted murder of wife

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This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Man sentenced to 3 years in prison in 2022 death of father in Pueblo

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