Courts • Police said killing was gang-related.
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When Alvert John Mike walked into a room with children, the adults melted away until they were just a part of the scenery.
Mike loved kids, his family members said. He wanted to be a father more than anything. But the 21-year-old man never got the chance.
Mike was shot dead at a party near 6600 South and 600 West in Murray on May 19.
On Tuesday, Jonas Rodriguez Perez, 28, was sentenced to five years to life in the Utah State Prison for Mike's death.
An undocumented immigrant, Perez will likely face deportation if released from prison.
At his sentencing, Perez offered his condolences to Mike's family, who packed the gallery of a 3rd District courtroom.
"I would like to apologize to the victim's family for what happened," he said in Spanish. "I have felt remorse since the first day."
Perez was initially charged with first-degree felony murder, which is punishable by 15 years to life in prison, as well as second-degree felony counts of discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a restricted person.
He pleaded guilty in November to manslaughter, which was enhanced to a first-degree felony because the homicide was committed in association with a street gang, according to charging documents.
Witnesses told police Mike began to throw up Nortenos gang signs and argue with Perez, who was known as an associate of the Surenos gang. Mike left briefly and returned carrying a log, witnesses told police.
That's when Perez pulled out a gun and fired at the floor, court documents state. Some witnesses said Perez chased Mike down the street before he shot him in the chest.
"Both sides dispute gang involvement, but they were acting like gang members, making gang signs," Salt Lake County prosecutor Sandi Johnson told Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills. "That behavior leads to the kind of violence we're all wishing would end. People get hurt and people die."
Mike's family acknowledged he had been in trouble with the law in the past, but said he had been trying to turn his life around.
"He was the most giving, patient person," sister Marcella Tsinnijinnie said after the hearing. "He loved his family. You can't know how hard it's been to lose him."