Nugget Shooter Sentenced to Life in Prison

By: Joe Harrington Email
By: Joe Harrington Email

RENO -- Ernesto Gonzalez was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Jethro Pettigrew during Street Vibrations two years ago. Judge Connie Steinheimer said there was overwhelming evidence of guilt as she handed down the sentence.

Prosecutors successfully argued Gonzalez, a member of the Vagos motorcyle club, shot high-ranking Hells Angels member Jethro Pettigrew in an assassination plot.

Just before sentencing, Gonzalez told the court he saw a fight and shot Pettigrew to protect others. He looked at friends and family of Pettigrew and said they have his condolences.

Pettrigrew's mother delivered a victim impact statement to the court. Jeri Pettigrew said she felt the sentence was just.

"The way (Gonzalez) killed him... shooting somebody in the back... that's a coward," she said.

On the murder count, Gonzalez will serve life in prison with additional time added for being a gang member and using a deadly weapon. He won't be eligible for parole for 28 years.

Jethro Pettigrew's friend, Bobby Lozano, said despite the possibility of parole, the sentence is fair.

"I think he's going to be there for a long, long time," he said.

Lozano described Pettigrew as dedicated to his family, especially his daughter. Jeri Pettigrew said her son worked for the City of San Jose, California for 22 years.

Before the sentencing, the defense filed a motion for a re-trial based on the argument the jury was confused by instructions. Steinheimer ruled the instructions were clear.

The defense is expected to appeal.

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