Man sentenced to 4 life terms for setting homeless man on fire

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SAN DIEGO — The man who set a homeless person on fire after dousing him with high-performance racing fuel was sentenced Friday to four life terms with the possibility of parole, plus three years in state prison.

Jose Ricardo Garibay IV, 28, was convicted in May of two counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated mayhem. A jury acquitted the defendant of torture.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund said Julio Edeza was with a friend outside a Rite Aid store in Oak Park on the morning of April 17, 2016, when Garibay pulled up in his father’s truck. Maund said Garibay walked toward Edeza and asked “Where’s the water?,” before dousing the victim with racing fuel and using a lighter to set him on fire.

Edeza, now 43, was burned over 90 percent of his body and spent a year in the hospital, the prosecutor said.

“I’ll never be able to be the same,” Edeza told Judge Leo Valentine Jr. before Garibay was sentenced. “He burned my flesh, but my spirit is still the same.” Edeza said he relied on God to help him after Garbibay set him on fire. The victim said he held his breath so he wouldn’t breathe in any toxic fumes and ran into the Rite Aid, where he was doused with a fire extinguisher.

A little more than a year later, Garibay attacked fellow inmate Mathew Magnuson at the downtown jail, delivering 122 punches and kicks before deputies intervened, Maund said.

Deputy Public Defender Denis Lainez asked the judge to have mercy on Garibay because the defendant suffers from a mental illness — schizophrenia — and substance abuse.

“Jurors said they felt no pleasure in convicting him,” Lainez said.

The attorney said the crimes “were not committed by an evil man, they were committed by a broken man.”

Maund said she told the jury that Garibay “was not wired correctly.” She said Garibay had chances to get help but chose not to do so.

“This is a man who was able to think clearly,” the prosecutor said. “He is dangerous. This is a man who has callous, violent tendencies that I don’t think will stop.”

Maund successfully argued that the judge should not strike Garibay’s 2008 Juvenile Court robbery conviction, which doubled the sentence.

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