Gang member gets life in prison

Samuel Molina stabbed a father to death in front of his own child in November 2014


VISALIA – A Visalia gang member who killed a man in front of his 7-year-old child was sentenced to life in prison last week.

On Jan. 5, Tulare County Superior Court Judge Gary Paden sentenced Samuel Molina, 27, to an indeterminate term of life in prison for murder. On Aug. 30, 2017, a Tulare County jury found Molina guilty of one count of second-degree murder with the special allegation that the crime was committed for the benefit of or in association with a criminal street gang. Molina has a prior weapons possession felony from 2009.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2014, Molina and another man, Franky Luna, 22, went to the apartment of a romantic acquaintance of Molina’s. When Molina knocked on the door, the father of the acquaintance’s three children, answered. After an argument ensued between the men, Molina stabbed the father seven times while his 7-year-old child witnessed the crime.

The victim implicated Molina in the crime before being transported to the hospital where he died. Molina and Luna fled the scene but were arrested separately a few days later. Luna pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in prison on March 18, 2016. In California, a second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence with a parole eligibility date set by statute at 15 years.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Sean Sangree and investigated by Detective Mona Whaley of the Visalia Police Department.

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