EVERETT - In carrying out their planned robbery of an unarmed 65-year-old security guard, Justin "J.T." Laks and Lars Dor Snow, both then 16, were a deadly duo: Laks hit their victim with a bottle, and once on the ground, Snow stomped on his head. Together, they inflicted injuries that later proved fatal.
For their role in the killing of Pedro Sabando, a Vietnam veteran who was working as the night security guard at a Lynnwood used-car lot, Laks today was sentenced to nearly 29 years in prison - the same sentence received yesterday by Snow. Carl Johnson, a 16-year-old youth who was with them at the time of the robbery, was to be sentenced this afternoon.
"This murder was violence for the sake of violence," said Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne, at Snow's sentencing. "Mr. Sabando lost his life for $71. It's a tragedy that he lost his life and a tragedy that you and two other young men will be spending long times in prison - which is a loss of your lives."
Four youths were originally charged in the Dec. 4 killing. Snow and Laks, both now 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the spring. Johnson, who acted as a lookout, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Anthony King, 17, of Lynnwood, was tried for murder in February, and found not guilty.
Wynne gave Snow, of Edmonds, and Laks, of Monroe, the highest possible sentence: 28 years and eight months, for first-degree murder and the use of a deadly weapon - the bottle that Laks used after luring Sabando out of his trailer office.
Before being sentenced, Neal Friedman, Laks' attorney, argued that his client should receive the low end of the sentencing range, because Laks had only intended to rob Sabando and was remorseful.
Laks also spoke, addressing Sabando's son and daughter-in-law.
"What I've done to you guys, there's no way to say `I'm sorry,' " No way I can take it back. I don't blame you guys for feeling the way you do about me."
But Wynne was unswayed and told Laks that he was responsible because he had planned the robbery and beaten Sabando.
Snow, at his sentencing yesterday, displayed no emotion.
But Ron Sabando, the son of the murdered man, spoke to Snow about how the loss has affected his family.
"We're sentenced for life," he said, before Snow's sentence was given. "My 3-year-old daughter has to live with the nightmares. There is no way we can be compensated for what we've been through.
As Laks was led by guards from the courtroom today, he walked past Sabando's family. He turned briefly to Sabando's daughter-in-law, Michelle Rogalin, who had spoken earlier at his hearing. "I'm sorry," he said again to her, briefly catching her eye. Although she didn't answer, Rogalin accepted the words and nodded.