Yuba County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Wirtschafter sentenced a Marysville man to from 15 years to life for the murder of a Yuba City man.
In December, William Joseph Henson, 35, pleaded no contest to second degree non-premeditated murder and assault with a firearm. On June 30, 2020, Henson shot at a woman sitting in her car at an East Linda motel after Henson had a dispute at the motel. She suffered non-life-threatening injuries. But as Henson fled the scene, driving approximately 80 miles per hour, he hit Michael Sanchez, 44, as Sanchez sat on his motorcycle at a red light.
Sanchez was killed in the collision and Henson traveled another quarter of a mile before abandoning his car and a rifle. He was arrested in Sacramento on Aug. 6.
At a sentencing hearing on Friday, Sanchez’s fiancé Connie Bernethy made a statement in court. Bernethy described the night Sanchez was killed and the impact of the loss on herself, her family and community. She said she and Sanchez had been in a relationship for five and a half years.
“I thought that together we could do anything,” Bernethy said.
She described Sanchez as sweet, caring and an incredible father.
“We are angry, lost, broken and hurting,” Bernethy said. “... I adored him and quite simply put I miss everything about him.”
Bernethy focused on Sanchez in her statement and only mentioned Henson on a few occasions. Henson sat in the jury box during the hearing.
“He (Henson) didn’t even try to help Michael,” Bernethy said.
Wirtschafter said in his years as a judge he had never seen the breadth and quality of the letters submitted to the court about Sanchez and the impact he had in the community.
“It’s a tremendous loss,” Wirtschafter said.
Wirtschafter also sentenced Henson to four years in prison for the assault with a firearm count, which will be served concurrently.
“Mr. Sanchez was clearly loved by his family, friends, and community; his death is a great loss to us all,” Yuba County District Attorney Clint Curry said in an email. “I pray that those who mourn will find peace. I also hope we have brought a modicum of justice, encouraging Mr. Henson and others who are living lawlessly to chart new lives after reflecting on the heartbreak caused by his reckless disregard for human life and the consequences of his behavior.”
Henson will be required to serve 15 years in prison before he is eligible to apply for parole, according to Curry.