POMONA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man who shot and killed two former Target co-workers, including one who received the promotion he wanted, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Sergio Dujuan Nelson, 46, also received a consecutive sentence of 35 years to life for the 1993 attack on the employees as they sat in a car in the parking lot of a Target store in the Los Angeles suburb of La Verne, the San Bernardino Sun reported.
Nelson killed Robin Shirley, who got the promotion, and Lee Thompson, who had defended Shirley when Nelson harassed her over it, according to court documents cited by the paper.
Nelson had quit in September 1993 after failing to win the promotion. But about three weeks, he later he rode his bicycle to the store, shot through an open rear window, started to walk away, then came back to fire more shots before fleeing, according to the court documents.
The defense argued Nelson snapped and acted impulsively because of his failure to be promoted, his severe depression, sex and relationship issues and “family dysfunction,” the documents stated.
Nelson was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1995. But the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 2016, finding the judge had interfered with the jury’s penalty-phase deliberations.
The case was sent back to the judge for resentencing after the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said it wouldn’t seek the death penalty again. District Attorney George Gascón opposes the death sentence.
During the sentencing in Pomona Superior Court, Shirley’s husband, Robert, said Nelson robbed his children of their mother, the Sun reported. They were 6 and 10 years old when she died.
He said Nelson had walked away but heard Robin Shirley “gurgling and gasping” and returned to shoot her in the forehead.
“For your cowardly actions you deserve to die,” Robert Shirley said.
Thompson’s brother, Ty Thompson, wrote in a victim impact statement that the family strongly believes Nelson should have been sentenced to death.