LOS ANGELES –
A 21-year-old man convicted of the first-degree murder of actor
Merlin Santana was sent to prison today for consecutive 25-year to
life sentences, the District Attorney’s office announced.
Attorney Greg Dohi said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P.
Fidler sentenced Damien Andre Gates to two 25-year-to-life terms,
plus 20 years, plus another life sentence. The sentences, to run
consecutively, mean that it is unlikely the defendant ever will be
A jury in
Fidler’s court earlier this month convicted Gates of first-degree
murder and attempted murder. The jury found that he used a rifle to
commit the crimes.
defendant, Brandon Douglas Byrnes, 25, has pleaded guilty to
voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. He is
expected to be sentenced to a 23-year prison term by Judge Fidler on
is under way in Fidler’s court for the final defendant, 17-year-old
Monique King. Like Gates and Byrnes, she is charged with one count
each of murder and attempted murder. Because she was 15 at the time
the crime occurred, her case first went to juvenile court, where a
judge found her unfit to be tried as a juvenile. King turned 17 on
Santana, 26, of
North Hollywood, was shot in the head and killed as he and a friend
were in a car leaving another man’s home in the Crenshaw District of
Los Angeles on Nov. 9, 2002. The friend survived the attack.
Santana was a co-star of television’s “Steve Harvey Show.”
defendants were arrested shortly after the shooting and have
remained in custody.