VISTA — A grandmother convicted of shooting her son-in-law to death at his Fallbrook home was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in prison in an emotional hearing in Vista Superior Court.
The sentence means that 65-year-old Cynthia Cdebaca will likely be incarcerated for the rest of her life. In February, she was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Geoward Estaquio, who was married to her daughter.
Cdebaca admitted shooting the 53-year-old man around 8 a.m. on February 11, 2014 – her 63rd birthday – after he made malicious comments to her in the backyard of the tall house. family level in a gated Fallbrook community.
She goes to her grandmother’s apartment where she lives, grabs her gun, and ambushes Estaquio as he brings the laundry. During the 10-minute assault, she repeatedly drained her five-shot gun – twice going to her car to get more ammo.
When Estaquio died on the kitchen floor, Cdebaca went to a local diner for bacon and eggs. She then dropped her gun and spent almost two hours at a Temecula casino. Detectives found her that afternoon at a cafe in Fallbrook.
“The jury’s verdict was substantiated by the evidence in this case,” Superior Court Judge K. Mickael Kirkman said Thursday.
Before the sentencing was delivered, Cdebaca spoke briefly — beginning with “I’m really, really sorry,” — but she became distraught and her words became hard to hear.
Defense attorney William Stone said Cdebaca understood that “she was never going to get out of jail.” He noted her age and poor health; She suffered a stroke on September 11, 2001 and never fully recovered.
Stone said on the day of the deadly shooting, Cdebaca “snapped” after seeing her daughter and grandchildren – then 12 and 15 – repeatedly abused.
“This is not a case of her doing this out of greed or self-interest,” Stone told the court Thursday. “She did it – in her mind – to protect her family.”
During the trial, Cdebaca’s daughter, Laura Salinas, described the tension that existed in the family. She said her husband physically and verbally attacked her, smashed her teenage son’s expensive electronics and sprayed water on family members if they misbehaved. Estaquio also threw the urn containing the ashes of Cdebaca’s late husband.
“I just want to say this is a tragedy,” Salinas said tearfully during Thursday’s sentencing hearing. “I love my mother and I love Geoward.”
She said both her family and her husband’s family suffered.
“I hope that after today we can move forward,” Salinas said.
Estaquio is the third of eight children in a close-knit family, one that always reunites and laughs. His three siblings attended the hearing, including two from the East Coast.
His sister, Geonisa Harris, said her family now views the events as “before or after” her brother’s murder.
“This event has profoundly and fundamentally changed us,” says Harris.
In describing his brother, Harris used words such as quick-witted, selfless, and generous. She also said that “no one can or will take away his vibrant spirit, his unwavering love for his family.”