Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SLT bar bouncers sentenced


RUBEN LIZARRAGA, right, and Sean Canilao, left, shown here in court in June of 2013, were sentenced Feb. 14 along with Rodolfo Hernandez for the involuntary manslaughter of Derek "Zippy" Penaranda. Democrat file photo by Pat Dollins

From page A1 | February 17, 2014 | 5 Comments

Three bar bouncers who pleaded to the involuntary manslaughter of another man were sentenced Friday morning.

Rodolfo Hernandez, in-custody, Ruben Lizarraga and Sean Canilao, out of custody, appeared with their lawyers for their judgment and sentencing hearing after previously pleading out.

Canilao was the only defendant to speak to the court. He said he “feel(s) really sorry” for what happened to Derek “Zippy” Penaranda. He noted there were “bad circumstances. I’m still very regretful.”

Wayne Penaranda, the victim’s father, then spoke. He began with a letter on behalf of his wife, Debbie.

“‘At this juncture, it’s difficult to believe that the sentencing is less than what we anticipated,’” he read. “‘I cannot express in words how this tragedy has affected myself, our family and our community.’” In her letter, she noted her son had his whole life ahead of him.

“‘They beat him until he was unconscious, held him down and prevented those present to provide him with assistance or aid on his behalf. Instead of allowing local law enforcement to intervene and defuse the situation, they chose to execute punishment and as a result, our son’s life was taken in this act.’” He was left in a vegetative state, having been severely brain-damaged.

Wayne then read his own statement. He said, “There are no words which can adequately convey the true depth of despair, sadness, grief and sorrow that has engulfed our family and community.” He noted that more than 300 people attended the memorial, with condolences coming from Hawaii and England.

“Zippy’s younger brother, Patch, was battered, restrained and forced to watch his severely beaten brother, gasping, take his last breath and die. That image haunts him. Forever,” Wayne said.

He noted that his wife “cannot be consoled or given comfort,” and has since been unable to go back to work. “She is trapped in a spiraling cycle of ‘what ifs,’ often numbed by drink and medication.”

The family had been in South Lake Tahoe on May 19, 2012, to not only celebrate Zippy’s birthday, but their own 39th wedding anniversary. “May 19th had always been cause for a double celebration. It will never again be a joyous date on our calendar.” Zippy died Oct. 12, 2012.

Due to his own inability to focus at work led to Wayne being discharged. Tests have shown that he suffered a series of mini-strokes, “most certainly attributed to witnessing my beautiful son slowly, painfully wither and die.”

In anticipation of getting married and having children, Zippy had given Katy, his girlfriend, a Volvo station wagon, Wayne said. “Those children will never be. Zip’s branch on our family tree will bear no fruit. Katy loved Zip equally, constantly at his side, foregoing her job and living at Renown, then a condo in Reno.”

Wayne then spoke of his “beautiful son, Zippy, battered; broken; wasting away, having lost 100 pounds; in a constant, excruciating pain; his muscles hard as stone, contorted and gnarled; retreating into whatever place he had taken refuge.” He would rub his son’s temples, whispering in his son’s ear. “I don’t know if the tears in his glazed eyes were mine or his, but in my heart, in my soul, I could hear my once-vibrant con call to me, ‘Dad, take me home.’ Even if Zip’s assailants were to receive the maximum sentence allowed within the penal statutes, at least they’re alive.”

Judge James R. Wagoner then began the sentencing.

All three received four years felony probation. Hernandez was to serve 364 days in jail. But, having already attained credit, he would be released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, likely to be deported to Mexico.

Canilao received 180 days in county jail, with 60 days straight time and 120 on alternate sentencing — house arrest. Though actual restitution was not given, Wagoner noted that the restitution “will be a big one.”

Lizarraga received 240 days in county jail, 60 days in actual jail and 180 days on alternative sentencing of his choice.

After the hearing, Canilao’s attorney, Dain Weiner, said, “This case is a tragedy for everyone involved.” He said his client was “remorseful for what ultimately never should have happened to Mr. Penaranda. His sincere hope is that everyone can recover and move on with their lives.”

Adam Weiner spoke on behalf of his client, Lizarraga. “It’s very, very tragic all around. It should never have happened. Everyone involved found themselves in an impossible situation. Our hearts go out to the family who lost a loved one.”

Hernandez’ attorney, David Cramer, and prosecutor Joe Alexander did not have any comments.

Wayne Penaranda said he “would have liked to have seen harsher sentencing,” but “it is what it is.” He said he could have pressed Alexander to go to trial, but the outcome would likely be the same. “Rather than prolong this any further, just get it under the bridge. I can’t see surviving going through a years-long court (trial).”

He noted that he is involved in a civil case against the same defendants as well as some corporate entities involved, but was unable to expand.

Hernandez, he said, likely got the sentence of one day less than a year as that would allow him the possibility to reenter the country. He said that although Hernandez was here illegally, it was not his fault, having been brought over at a very young age by his parents. “It’s somewhat ironic,” he said, as Hernandez is a “convicted felon of a violent crime, and one day makes all the difference in the world.”

The defendants were bouncers at Mo’s Place, a South Lake Tahoe bar where Zippy Penaranda was celebrating his 30th birthday. Penaranda was allegedly asked to leave due to unruly conduct but instead punched bar owner Manish “Mo” Patel, knocking him unconscious. The three bouncers reacted and detained him, knocking Penaranda unconscious. Blood flow was deprived to his brain long enough to put him in a persistent vegetative state. Firefighters, through CPR, were able to regain a heartbeat. Penarenda died from his injuries a few months later, in October.

Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or Follow @CMayerMtDemo.


Discussion | 5 comments

  • 1036-FrankFebruary 17, 2014 - 8:44 am

    How many of these defendants are illegally in the country and how much did they cost? For the person killed and his family, it cost everything. I doubt This crime would even be reported in Mexico. Here, Add millions illegally in the country with no criminal records checks hiding from their crimes in their home countries here until they commit new crimes and flee back across the border. This is a common situation for people illegally entering the country with no records check for crimes and no health screening which is why diseases that have been eliminated in the US are coming back in now, there are no immunization laws in Mexico. This is pure insanity and whoever employed these people should be in a federal prison. The dive bar should be demolished to prevent more crimes, bar "Bouncers" are required to be licensed and have training and criminal background checks just like a security guard. The city of SLT should use code enforcement and public nuisance laws and the state needs to enforce the law on "bouncers" to prevent further similar crimes where untrained criminals act as "bouncers" and kill people.

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  • DagwoodFebruary 17, 2014 - 10:43 am

    Unless you are a sociopath, most who have committed and been caught/convicted of their crimes are "remorseful." It's what their defense attorneys tell them to say to probation officers who are preparing pre-sentencing reports. But I suspect that most of their remorse is for themselves and their own families that have to bear the embarrassment of the situation. This crap of using "remorse" as a mitigating factor in sentencing is what should enrage the public, and serve as a basis to have these soft judges removed from the bench. Being an upstanding human being means taking responsibility for your actions, notwithstanding your "remorse." Sentence these thugs (yes, they are thugs, because good members of society don't beat others to death) to the maximum allowed under the law, and give the victim's family some measure of justice. Clearly these thugs have means, because they hired a private defense attorney, who most assuredly doesn't work for free. You want to know why this country is going to hell in a hand basket -- LACK OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY among its citizens. Until that changes, this culture of "it's not my fault" will perpetuate.

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  • Gaspen AspenFebruary 17, 2014 - 2:45 pm

    I hear the Beacon employs security under the guise of "staff" so they don't do background checks and hire at minimum wages. Maybe these fools can find employment there. However they should be deported and never let into this country again.....oh but maybe they vote!

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  • zorkFebruary 17, 2014 - 7:16 pm

    This whole thing stinks !! Mo's was a great locals bar. Zippy started the fight and the bouncers did their job. If Zippy had survived, he is the one that would have been charged with felony assault. Losing a child is emotionally very painful. I guess the town should stop serving alcohol to all tourist and not let them in to our bars.

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  • DagwoodFebruary 17, 2014 - 11:53 pm

    @Zork -- please enlighten me how beating someone to the point of brain damage is "doing their job." Their job is to stop the fight and call the police. If being an a-hole were grounds to be beaten to death, the population would drop by 50% overnight.

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