Jason Bautista was convicted Feb. 4 of first-degree murder in the slaying of Jane Bautista, 41, who was killed on Jan. 14, 2003.
Last-minute events delayed but did not halt Friday’s sentencing. Bautista first missed his bus to court, then attempted to fire his court-appointed attorney.
Separately, a juror filed an affidavit saying she had changed her mind about her decision to convict for first-degree murder. She said the circumstances of the mother-son relationship, when they came to light, pointed toward a manslaughter charge, not murder.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel flatly rejected both Bautista’s motion and the juror’s change of heart.
“The jury got it right: first-degree murder. There is no (provision to allow for juror) remorse,” said Fasel, according to KCAL9.
Bautista then chose to address the court.
“I’m very sorry for all my actions, your honor, but it wasn’t a first-degree murder in my opinion,” Bautista told the judge, according to the television station.
The judge asked back, “Is that it?” and hearing that it was, sentenced the defendant to 25 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors said Bautista, a graduate of Paloma Valley High School in Menifee, cut off his mother’s head and hands to keep investigators from identifying her. The body was found dumped in the mountains off Ortega Highway.
The killing occurred in Riverside, but Orange County prosecutors took over the case because the body was found in Orange County.
Bautista, according to prosecutors, got the idea to cut off his mother’s head and hands from an episode of HBO’s gritty mob drama “The Sopranos.”
The Riverside resident admitted killing his mother, but claimed it was an act of “accidental self-defense” after she put him in a “life-threatening situation” by coming at him with a knife.
Bautista’s thumbprint, however, was found on his mother’s throat, and her face was badly beaten, KCAL reported.
Bautista, a one-time biochemistry student at Cal State San Bernardino, testified that after his mother was dead, he cut off her head and hands to hide her identity.
The head and hands were later found in a duffel bag in the family’s Riverside home.
Bautista testified that his mother became abusive as her paranoia and mental illness got worse.
Assistant Public Defender Don Ronaldson told jurors that the abuse Bautista endured included beatings, taunts, threats with a knife and beatings with sticks and clubs, one of which resulted in a visit to an emergency room.
The mother’s paranoia left the family homeless at times, as she believed neighbors turned against her, he said.
About three months before her death, the mother had been relatively OK, but then got worse, and the young man could no longer tolerate it, Ronaldson said.
Prosecutors argued that her erratic behavior cramped her son’s lifestyle, and that he wanted to get rid of her.
Bautista’s half-brother, Matthew Montejo, who was 15 years old when his mother was slain, testified for the prosecution, saying he did not help kill his mother, but helped dispose of her body.