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December 19, 2014

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Man sentenced to life in Luxor pipe bomb case

Sentencing for co-defendant postponed until later this month

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Mona Shield Payne/Special to the Sun

Omar Rueda-Denvers, left, laughs while sitting next to Porfirio Duarte-Herrera as they wait for their sentencing hearing to begin Thursday at the Regional Justice Center.

Luxor bombing sentencing (Jan. 7)

Porfirio Duarte-Herrara, right, and Omar Rueda-Denvers, center, listen to a court interpreter as District Court Judge Michael P. Villani sentences Rueda-Denvers to life without parole Thursday at the Regional Justice Center.  Rueda-Denvers was sentenced to life without parole and Duarte-Herrera will be sentenced Jan. 28 for killing Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio after placing a pipe bomb on his truck at the Luxor parking garage in May 2007.
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One of two men found guilty of killing another man with a pipe bomb detonated at the Luxor parking garage was formally sentenced today to life in prison without parole.

Omar Rueda-Denvers, 34, was sentenced on a charge of first-degree murder for a pipe bomb explosion on the garage roof of the Luxor on May 7, 2007, that killed Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio. Dorantes Antonio’s girlfriend, Caren Chali, was near the explosion but was unharmed.

“I want to tell you that I am an innocent man of all the accusations that are against me,” Rueda-Denvers said through a translator before his sentence was handed down. “I never solicited the placement of a bomb. I never asked anybody to build a bomb for me – that’s a lie. This was absurd and just a shock. That’s all I want to say.”

Prosecutors contended throughout the trial that Chali spurned Rueda-Denvers’ attempts to reconcile their relationship and sought the help of his friend, co-defendant, Porfirio “Pilo” Duarte-Herrera, to get revenge. Rueda-Denvers’ attorneys said he was just trying to find the daughter he had with Chali.

The bomb tore off Dorante Antonio’s hand and sent a piece of metal into his head, which killed him.

Duarte-Herrera also was scheduled to be sentenced today but his sentencing was postponed until Jan. 28 because his attorneys didn’t receive a presentencing investigation report until Wednesday.

At trial, both men were found guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder and of related bomb possession charges. They were spared the death penalty, with jurors instead opting for life in prison without parole.

Before Judge Michael Villani handed down his sentence, he heard arguments from Rueda-Denvers’ attorney, Christopher Oram, who argued that time for the additional charges should be served concurrent to the life without parole sentence given by the jury.

“Life without parole is a very serious sentence,” Oram said. “Based upon the fact he has no prior record and based upon the fact he received life without parole, we ask you to run these counts concurrently.”

Prosecutor David Stanton pointed out it was difficult for the state to determine Rueda-Denvers’ prior criminal history because that wasn’t his real name. A judge can consider previous criminal acts when handing down a sentence.

“All the things we know and don’t know about this case, one of the things that’s certain is that the real Omar Rueda-Denvers was his former employer, who lived in Panama and called the FBI when this was on CNN International, outraged that his name was being used in and associated with a bombing murder in Las Vegas,” Stanton said. He asked Villani to run the additional counts consecutively.

Rueda-Denvers and Duarte-Herrera are both in the country illegally, authorities have said.

“The testimony is quite clear (given) the nature of the explosive device, other individuals on the roof were in danger when this pipe bomb went off and it was but for the grace of God they weren’t injured,” Villani said.

In addition to serving life without parole on the murder charge, Rueda-Denvers was sentenced to a consecutive term of 16 to 40 years for the attempted murder of Chali. He received two concurrent terms of two to five years for possession of an explosive or incendiary device and a concurrent sentence of two to 10 years on a charge of transportation of explosives.

Besides the death penalty or life without parole, jurors could have given them up to 100 years with parole possible after 40 years, or life with parole possible after 40 years.

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