HARTFORD — A man who fatally shot an acquaintance during a confrontation last fall was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday in Superior Court.
David Velazquez had previously pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter. He apologized to the relatives of victim Omar Santana, but said the shooting was in self defense.
Santana’s sister pointed angrily at Velazquez in court and accused him of killing her brother over $30. She said Velazquez shot him twice, which she said indicates it wasn’t in self defense.
In his statement, Velazquez said Santana had tried to rob him.
Santana’s tearful and outraged family members said outside of court that Velazquez should have received a longer prison term, and that the charge should have been murder.
Velazquez’s lawyer, Gerald Klein, referred to another, widely-publicized case in which a killer claimed self defense, the Zimmerman murder case in Florida, and said, “We never know what a jury is going to do.”
According to the warrant for Velazquez’s arrest, there were several people in the area of the shooting, which happened shortly before 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 2012.
One saw the shooting, police said. The woman was looking out her window when she saw two men standing on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building at 236 Sisson Avenue. She recognized one of the men as Omar Santana and the other as a neighbor who is dating a woman who lives at 236 Sisson Ave., she told investigators.
She overheard the men arguing, she said. “…It appeared Omar owed the other Hispanic male money,” she told police.
The two were standing face-to-face when Santana pushed the other man, the woman told police. The other man then pulled out a pistol and shot Santana in the stomach, she said.
“Witness #1 reported she looked away and then heard a second gun shot,” the warrant states. “She looked out of her window and observed the Hispanic male run toward the rear of 236 Sisson Avenue.”
Santana collapsed in front of 233 Sisson Ave.
By Christine Dempsey, The Hartford Courant