A bouncer who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Palo Alto resident outside a San Jose bar received an eight-month jail sentence on Thursday.
Jose Bonilla Rodas, 29, of East Palo Alto, took responsibility for his actions leading to the death of 24-year-old Daniel Adam Esquivel, who died after being punched by the burly bouncer and struck his head on the pavement.
Esquivel was at the Myth Taverna & Lounge in San Jose on March 28, 2015, when he was escorted outside after an incident that began in the bar. He got into an argument with Rodas, who punched him. Esquivel fell to the ground and was knocked unconscious.
Friends took him away in their car and showed up with him hours later at Stanford Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The Santa Clara County Coroner determined that Esquivel died from blunt-force trauma to the back of his head due to the fall after a physical altercation.
Rodas was arrested without incident on June 5, 2015, in South San Francisco. He addressed the court on Thursday, taking responsibility for his actions, Deputy District Attorney Michael Vidmar said.
About eight members of Esquivel's family appeared in court to express their pain at the loss of their loved one. Many others wrote letters to the court about Esquivel and the type of person they knew and loved.
With time for good behavior, Rodas could be released after serving four months in county jail, Vidmar said.
Esquivel's death was "incredibly unfortunate," and the series of events that led to his death "should never have happened. The defendant's decision to punch the victim, to use force, was completely unnecessary and led to the loss of life," Vidmar said.
Esquivel's mother, Blanca Martinez, said on Friday that the family feels that justice was not served by Rodas' sentence.
"I carried Danny for nine months before giving life to him, but yet his life only meant eight months to our 'justice system'. Mr. Bonilla receives an eight months sentence while we 'serve' a lifetime sentence without Danny," she said in an email.
"Danny always would say that only God can judge us, that justice is his alone. He also would say that you had to train your faith in God like you would for a marathon because you never knew when that marathon would come. Grieving the loss of his life is that marathon for our family. We miss him so much," she added.
Bonilla's actions had an effect on her family and his own, but his family still has him here with them, she said.
"We don't have Danny," Martinez said. "Danny's father and myself don't wish the pain of losing a child on anyone. It's a constant struggle. We know Danny would want us to stay strong and to watch after his family, especially his grandparents and siblings. We appreciate that Mr, Vidmar stood with the initial charge and all his hard work on this case. Ultimately, though, he's not the one that imposes the sentence."
Martinez said the family continues to keep her son's memory and spirit alive through the scholarship fund they set up. Last week, she met the recipient of the 2016 Danny Esquivel Memorial Summer Camp Scholarship, which she set up at the East Palo Alto YMCA last summer.
"He loved working there. It's a blessing to sponsor a child as a way to honor Danny's life," she said.
Rodas is out of custody and must turn himself in to begin serving his sentence in October. Under California's sentencing guidelines for persons without a prior felony conviction, he could be released after serving half of his sentence, or four months in county jail, Vidmar said.
A civil lawsuit against the Myth Taverna & Lounge and Rodas is still pending in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The suit alleges negligence and hiring Rodas without proper training and a Proprietary Private Security Officer or Security Guard license, as is required by state law.