Two men were sentenced today to 30 years and four months in prison for the fatal shooting of two men in La Habra a decade ago.
Jonathan Galvan, 38, and Ruben Chacon, 55, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of voluntary manslaughter just before their trial was set to begin. The charges stemmed from the killings of 24-year-old Nick Burresch and 30-year-old Phillip Reinig on Jan. 26, 2012, in front of Burresch's home at 511 S. Clifton St., where he lived with his mother, two brothers, a cousin and his aunt. Reinig, his friend, lived nearby.
Noelani Burresch, Nick Burresch's daughter, said she was 8 going on 9 when her father was killed. She was playing in the garage and just as she was about to be told what happened she said, ``Daddy's dead,'' because she said she had a premonition because her father was struggling with addiction issues at the time.
``The last time I saw him was Christmas Day,'' she said. ``I'm 18, and now going to be 19 and I've had to learn how to be a woman without a dad.'' She told Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner her father would come to all of her sporting events, but after he died, ``He stopped coming so I stopped playing sports.'' She said her life ``feels like hell'' now, and it's ``hard for me to remember (her father) because I only had him for eight years. ... I never got to see the best part of him.'' Reinig's daughter told the judge that, ``I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled.'' Her mother, Sonya Noriega, said Reinig stayed with their daughter in the intensive care unit after her birth all night.
``And now he's her guardian angel,'' Noriega said. ``Words are not enough, just like the sentences in this case will never be enough.'' Burresch's mother, Tina, said her son was the oldest of four boys, and that he was 15 when he told his parents he was going to be a father. She recalled that he wanted to quit school to get a job to support his daughter, but his mother convinced him to stay in school and get his high school diploma, which he accomplished. He got a job at a fast food restaurant and played on the varsity football team while supporting his daughter.
She recalled how he would cash his check, buy a box of diapers and walk a mile and a half to his daughter's home. She felt hopeful that he would overcome his addiction issues, just as his father did, and that he was going to school at the time of his death to learn welding. Burresch's brother, Jesse, said his big brother always looked after him and that he was a lot of fun.
``He was just a goofball, always funny,'' Jesse Burresch said. The brothers were fond of reenacting World Wresting Federation matches together. He recalled the day of the shooting. He popped his head in the door to ask his siblings what they were doing and they said they were going to go play basketball as usual like they often did on Thursdays. ``He said, `If you need anything I'm just going to be outside,''' Jesse Burresch said.
``I couldn't believe it, but my brother was gone two minutes later,'' he said. ``The pain of that night. I can't even describe it.'' Burresch had been ``in a problematic dating relationship with Irene Galvan and that an earlier verbal dispute between victim Burresch and Irene Galvan's brother, Joel Galvan, was the possible motive for the homicide,'' Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney said in his trial brief for the case. An argument erupted earlier that day at the Galvan family's residence in La Habra that led to the shooting later that day, prosecutors said. Jonathan Galvan is a cousin of Irene Galvan's and Ruben Chacon was Irene's uncle.
Chacon's son, Ruben S. Chacon, pleaded guilty Jan. 20, 2017, to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Chacon's attorney, Ken Morrison, said, ``The parties recognized there were risks for both sides at trial. For the prosecution, there were important witnesses who kept changing their stories and had credibility issues, along with substantial evidence pointing to other suspects as the possible killers. For Mr. Chacon, there was circumstantial evidence that might be enough for a jury to believe he was a shooter and not acting in self-defense, in which case he was facing life without the possibility of parole.'' Morrison pointed out that Chacon, because of his age, will be eligible for early release within about 11 years under a state prison program, ``So it was difficult for him to reject the district attorney's officer.'' Chacon was given credit for 3,690 days in custody awaiting trial. Galvan was given credit for 3,479 days behind bars.