Wilfredo Rodriguez, the killer of young Fernando Jose Basurto Jr., was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday to 95 years to life in prison.
Fernando was killed on May 19, 2016 by Rodriguez, who was illegally present in the country.
Rodriguez, of Nicaragua, accumulated a lengthy criminal history while in the U.S. which includes 12 felony and 15 misdemeanor convictions. His last felony convicted prior to young Fernando’s murder was for assault with firearm. He served 2 days in a county jail for that crime and was given probation.
Seventeen days later after being released from jail, Rodriguez murdered Fernando, who was just a few days away from graduating from a West Covina high school on May 26, 2016.
Fernando’s grandparents, Fernando and Laura Basurto, of Arizona, addressed the Court before Rodriguez’s sentence was handed down. Fernando read the following statement into the record:
We are Fernando and Laura Basurto, we are the grandparents of Fernando Jose Basurto Jr. I would like to start out by describing to you the kind of young man my grandson had become. Fernando was an 18-year-old who had the entire world in front of him. He was 1 week away from graduating from Walnut High school and had already enlisted into the United States Air Force. When he called me to ask what I thought and what branch I thought he should join, I told him the Navy or Air Force, saying he would have a better way of life. You see I am a Combat Veteran of Iraq spending 30 years retiring from the Army, and baby Nando as the family called him, he grew up around military. When he called me in Arizona to inform me that he had enlisted in the United States Air Force as a E3, 6-year enlistment, I was so proud of him. You see he was going to be a Military Police Officer. His plan was to get his degree in criminal science while serving on active duty. After the Air Force he wanted to apply as a veteran minority to pursue a career in the FBI, with the goal of becoming an agent. The family thought that while serving in the Air Force in a time of war, he had a better chance of being safe. I truly thought if he joined the Army knowing what I know he would witness the horrors of war.
Nando loved his God, life and was loved by his entire family, friends and would come to Arizona for the holidays with his sister Vanessa to see his family, which of course was a great time of joy for my family. As for me his grandfather I have seen war, men killed, wounded, but the loss of my second oldest grandson has brought me to my knees, and truly feel I will not recover, I have suffered a Heart Attack that was stress induced. My oldest grandson and Nando were the ones who would carry my name forward. To a Hispanic male this holds weight. With the murder of Nando my family has been devastated, it has broken us apart, and may not recover, I pray I am wrong. I truly understand how families divorce after a death.
Nando will always be 18 years old. He will never find love, marry have a family of his own, grow old and enjoy his grandchildren. All this was taken away and my family will never be the same. The two young men that stand convicted before you seem not to show or have any remorse for what they have done. Not a day passes that I do not mourn, I ask God to end my life, so I will not hurt. I was placed on suicide watch by the Veterans Administration Hospital for a year.
I understand California does not have capital punishment as Arizona does, so I ask that you judge them to fullest extent of the law. You see these men that are before you will always be taken care of. When they are hungry, cold, hot, sick they need new shoes, clothing they will be taken care of. They will be able to become educated if they so choose. But Nando will still be dead, this will never change. Your honor a parent, grandparent should never bury a child or grandchild. Everything has been taken from us. We now celebrate his birthday with a balloon and tears of pain not joy.
Please grant myself, family justice. I do understand that one of the convicted murders has children, where was he? Instead of being with his children, earning a living so he could provide for his family, he chooses to kill my grandson. There is no honor in what these convicted murders have done, they stole everything from Nando, myself and family.
In closing I want to thank you for hearing my plea for justice for my grandson Fernando Jose Basurto Jr.