Cole Mayer
Mountain Democrat

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February 24, 2014
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Former bouncers sentenced in beating

Three bar bouncers who pleaded no contest to charges relating to a May 2012 beating of another man were sentenced Friday morning in Placerville.

Rodolfo Hernandez, Ruben Lizarraga and Sean Canilao appeared with their lawyers for their judgment and sentencing hearing.

Canilao was the only defendant to speak to the court. He said he “feel(s) really sorry” for what happened to Derek “Zippy” Penaranda. He noted there were “bad circumstances. I’m still very regretful.”

All three received four years felony probation. Hernandez was to serve 364 days in jail. But, having already attained credit, he would be released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, likely to be deported to Mexico.

Canilao received 180 days in county jail, with 60 days straight time and 120 on alternate sentencing — house arrest. Though actual restitution was not given, Judge James R. Wagoner noted that the restitution “will be a big one.”

Lizarraga received 240 days in county jail, 60 days in actual jail and 180 days on alternative sentencing of his choice.

Wayne Penaranda, the victim’s father, spoke at the sentencing. He began with a letter on behalf of his wife, Debbie.

“At this juncture, it’s difficult to believe that the sentencing is less than what we anticipated,” he read. “‘I cannot express in words how this tragedy has affected myself, our family and our community.’”

The family had been in South Lake Tahoe on May 19, 2012, to not only celebrate Zippy’s birthday, but their own 39th wedding anniversary. “May 19th had always been cause for a double celebration. It will never again be a joyous date on our calendar.” Zippy died Oct. 12, 2012.

The defendants were bouncers at Mo’s Place, a South Lake Tahoe bar where Zippy Penaranda was celebrating his 30th birthday. Penaranda was allegedly asked to leave due to unruly conduct but instead punched bar owner Manish “Mo” Patel, knocking him unconscious. The three bouncers reacted and detained him, knocking Penaranda unconscious. Blood flow was deprived to his brain long enough to put him in a persistent vegetative state. Firefighters, through CPR, were able to regain a heartbeat. Penarenda died from his injuries a few months later.

“‘They beat him until he was unconscious, held him down and prevented those present to provide him with assistance or aid on his behalf. Instead of allowing local law enforcement to intervene and defuse the situation, they chose to execute punishment and as a result, our son’s life was taken in this act.’” He was left in a vegetative state, having been severely brain-damaged.

Wayne then read his own statement. He said, “There are no words which can adequately convey the true depth of despair, sadness, grief and sorrow that has engulfed our family and community.”

After the hearing, Canilao’s attorney, Dain Weiner, said, “This case is a tragedy for everyone involved.” He said his client was “remorseful for what ultimately never should have happened to Mr. Penaranda. His sincere hope is that everyone can recover and move on with their lives.”

Adam Weiner spoke on behalf of his client, Lizarraga. “It’s very, very tragic all around. It should never have happened. Everyone involved found themselves in an impossible situation. Our hearts go out to the family who lost a loved one.”

Hernandez’s attorney, David Cramer, and prosecutor Joe Alexander did not have any comments.

Wayne Penaranda said he “would have liked to have seen harsher sentencing,” but “it is what it is.” He said he could have pressed Alexander to go to trial, but the outcome would likely be the same. “Rather than prolong this any further, just get it under the bridge. I can’t see surviving going through a years-long court (trial).”

He noted that he is involved in a civil case against the same defendants as well as some corporate entities involved, but did not expand.

Hernandez, he said, likely got the sentence of one day less than a year as that would allow him the possibility to re-enter the country. He said that although Hernandez was here illegally, it was not his fault, having been brought over at a very young age by his parents.

“It’s somewhat ironic,” he said, as Hernandez is a “convicted felon of a violent crime, and one day makes all the difference in the world.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 18, 2014 07:38PM Published Feb 24, 2014 09:09AM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.