RIO LINDA (CBS13) – A Rio Linda man convicted of killing another man with an ax in a grisly case of mistaken identity was sentenced 16 years to life in prison on Friday.

Steven Zinda did apologize to David Valdez’s family in court, but they say it comes much too late. Even the judge told Zinda what he did was horrific, brutal and savage and called him a danger to the community.

“Zinda did not just hurt one person, he hurt my family, my friends and me,” Valdez’s sister said in court. “My brother was murdered like he was in a horror movie.”

There were emotional, tearful statements from Valdez’s sister and mother in court about how their lives have never been the same since David’s gruesome death.

“I’ve had nightmares of me running alongside my brother and seeing him being chopped,” his sister said.

Authorities say Zinda mistakenly believed Valdez burglarized his Rio Linda home back in March 2011. They say Zinda chased Valdez down the street and bashed his face in with an ax.

It turned out Valdez was in the neighborhood attending a party and his car got stuck in a ditch.

Valdez’s mother said she expected the sentence the judge handed out Friday.

“We were not surprised about that, but it was an emotional day and I’m glad we’re finished,” Maria Nunez said.

Zinda kept a straight face through a photo slideshow of David’s life and during impact statements from his family members, but he broke down into tears as he gave an apology to the family.

“I beg to you for forgiveness for the actions that took place that morning,” he said.

But the apology did nothing to appease Nunez.

“Whatever he says now, it’s too late already,” she said. “He did what he did.”

Meanwhile, David’s family hopes the end of the trial means they can finally start moving on with their lives.

“We’re going to miss him a lot and we can’t wait to be there with him one day,” his mother said.

Zinda had pled not guilty by reason of insanity. He was ordered to pay restitution to the family in the amount of $7,500.


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