Nearly six years have passed since Alicia Moore and Lola Rios Gutierrez saw their sons for the last time.
On Friday, at the sentencing hearing for the two of the four men convicted of Elijah Moore and Enrique Rios’ 2016 murders, the mothers sought fates for the killers they said should mirror their own bleak futures.
“I just want to make sure that they see life,” Moore told Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg. “Please see to it that they see life without (parole), because I’ll see life without my son for the rest of my life. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
“My life is over, and that’s how I feel every day,” said Gutierrez, who after her son’s disappearance battled and survived cancer her doctors told her was stress-related. “They took my son’s life forever — they deserve to be behind bars for life, too.”
Rosenberg agreed, sentencing Winters resident Chandale Shannon Jr., 25; and 22-year-old Jesus Campos to life in prison without the possibility of parole, telling both defendants they “have forfeited their right to live in civilized society.”
“There are only two cases in my time on the bench that are so onerous that words almost fail me,” Rosenberg said, citing the double homicide as one of them. “The crimes were evil. The families have been impacted terribly, and two boys are dead.”
All over three ounces of marijuana, and a $300 theft that had the leader of the four defendants, David Froste, thirsty for revenge.
Police and prosecutors said Elijah, just shy of 17, robbed Froste of a marijuana-filled jar in Woodland on the night of Oct. 16, 2016, with Campos and Shannon as witnesses.
Enraged over the ripoff, Froste called his brother Jonathan, saying he was on his way to retrieve a handgun to “shoot up” Elijah’s house.
But when the trio couldn’t find Elijah, they set their sights on 16-year-old Enrique Rios, his classmate and close friend. Facebook Messenger records displayed at trial showed Shannon reached out to Enrique that night and asked him “to party.”
With no knowledge of the robbery, Enrique gave Shannon his Esparto address, then rode with Shannon, Campos and David Froste to Second Beach, a rural gathering spot in Knights Landing. Instead of a party, however, Enrique found himself on the other end of Froste’s gun.
When he refused to give up Elijah’s whereabouts, David Froste fatally shot him, authorities say. Three weeks later, the defendants — this time including Jonathan Froste — abducted Elijah from a Woodland shopping center and drove him to another rural Knights Landing site.
There, Shannon and Jonathan Froste held Elijah at gunpoint while David Froste and Campos went for supplies including tools, trash bags and gasoline, according to trial testimony. When they returned, the foursome took turns bludgeoning the teen with a tree branch, followed by a final gunshot from David Froste.
To date, the teens’ remains have never been found, despite Shannon, Campos and Jonathan Froste’s attempts to lead authorities to their graves.
“These families have not been provided the basic human decency to be able to bury their loved ones,” Deputy District Attorney David Wilson, who prosecuted the case, said at Friday’s hearing. “There’s not a gravesite they get to go to and place flowers or a flag or a memento.”
Campos and Shannon offered no comments during the sentencing hearing. David Nelson, Campos’ lawyer, sought a measure of leniency from Rosenberg, noting — as he had during the trial — that his client was 16 years old at the time of the murders, intimidated and manipulated by a much-older David Froste.
“They were pawns in a game being played by David Froste,” Nelson said. “Does that exonerate them from responsibility? Absolutely not.”
Shannon’s attorney, Bob Spangler, conceded his client faced a life term, “but that doesn’t mean there is no hope for rehabilitation.”
“Throughout these proceedings, it’s been obvious that Mr. Shannon suffers from developmental, as well as mental and emotional problems,” said Spangler, who twice declared doubts about Shannon’s fitness to stand trial. He asked for Shannon’s placement in a prison medical facility.
“I’m not going to make that order or recommendation,” Rosenberg later said, adding he would leave that decision up to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “They are the experts.”
David Froste, convicted of both murders in 2018, is serving his own life-without-parole sentence at Salinas Valley State Prison. Jonathan Froste, who struck a plea deal in which he agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a second-degree murder conviction, returns to court Aug. 19.