Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN SENTENCED TO 26 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR BLUDGEONING SLEEPING ROOMMATE IN HEAD WITH HAMMER
SANTA ANA – A man was sentenced today to 26 years to life in state prison for murdering his sleeping roommate by bludgeoning the victim in the head with a hammer. Luis Rosales Rivera, 59, Stanton, was found guilty by a jury Oct. 12, 2011, of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon.
In March 2008, Rivera had lived in a converted garage in a Stanton home for approximately one year with two other roommates including 63-year-old Miguel Delacruz. The defendant disliked Delacruz because he believed the victim was disrespectful and bossy, including making Rivera clean the bathroom, making disparaging comments about the defendant’s mother, and regulating when Rivera could watch television.
On March 26, 2008, Rivera left early in the morning for work as a gardener. After work, he briefly returned home and then left again for dinner and beers at a local pizza parlor. Rivera returned home at approximately 9:00 p.m. after his two roommates had fallen asleep.
The defendant approached Delacruz as the victim slept and hit him at least three times in the head with a large 4-pound sledge hammer. He fled the scene after murdering the victim.
The third roommate awoke to the sound of the attack and went to the main house to alert the homeowner, who instructed the roommate to leave the house. The homeowner removed the victim’s body from the garage and dragged it into the alley, where it was discovered by neighbors shortly after midnight.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case.
Today at the sentencing hearing, the victim’s niece told the court that Delacruz was a loving and hard-working man. She said the defendant has no remorse and if he were to be released, he would kill again. She asked the court to impose the maximum sentence so that her family could get justice for her uncle.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.