SAN DIEGO — A career criminal who went on a rampage two years ago, fatally shooting a friend he thought disrespected his girlfriend and then wounding a man in La Jolla over a drug debt, was sentenced Friday to 247 years to life in prison.
Joseph Anthony Hill, 46, was convicted last April of first-degree murder in the death of Sean O’Toole and attempted murder for wounding Travis Bondurant on Dec. 29, 2013. Hill, who has six prior felony convictions for robbery, drug and assault crimes, was given the maximum sentence possible by Superior Court Judge Frederic Link.
“Mr. Hill, you’re a criminal. You will never see the light of day again,” the judge said as he sentenced the defendant.
Sean O’Toole’s brother, Kevin, told the judge that Hill was a “cold- blooded murderer” and “someone who should have never been on the streets.”
Deputy District Attorney Joe McLaughlin said that besides the pain that Hill caused O’Toole’s friends and family, the case was disturbing because the defendant had shown little remorse for the murder.
“No remorse … not little. No remorse,” Hill said during an outburst in court.
O’Toole’s mother, Judy Niemi, called the murder “senseless” and said her son was a good man.
“He (Sean) was not perfect. He never claimed to be perfect,” Niemi told the judge.
McLaughlin said Hill hasn’t been out of custody for more than 14 months since he was 18 years old.
Link called Hill a “true gangster” and a “criminal.”
McLaughlin told the jury that Hill went to O’Toole’s Linda Vista home about 5 p.m. armed with a firearm in his waistband and confronted the victim in the backyard over a statement he’d previously made about the defendant’s girlfriend, who accompanied him to the residence.
McLaughlin said Hill pulled a 9mm weapon, prompting the 47-year-old victim to say “What are you going to do, shoot me?”
Hill fired into the ground, then shot O’Toole in the chest, the prosecutor said, then fled with his girlfriend, Marla Caniglia, who later pleaded guilty to being an accessory.
Defense attorney Stewart Dadmun argued that the alleged insult to Caniglia had already been cleared up when Hill went to talk to O’Toole.
About three hours later, Hill kicked in the door of a motel room in La Jolla and shot Bondurant once in the stomach over a $200 drug debt, McLaughlin told the jury.
The next morning, law enforcement officers tracked Hill to a home on Catalina Boulevard in Point Loma. When Hill tried to drive away, officers opened fire, wounding him.
Dadmun told the jury that Hill shot O’Toole in self-defense. The defense attorney said Hill owed O’Toole money and went to talk to him the night of the shooting. Once at the victim’s home, O’Toole became angry and Hill shot him once to stop him, then fled the scene, Dadmun told the jury.