A man who was convicted in April of voluntary manslaughter in the death of his brother was sentenced on Tuesday.
Ralph Valenzuela, 32, was sentenced in Kern County Superior Court to a total of 29 years in prison for his involvement in the stabbing death of his 30-year-old brother Richie Vincent Valenzuela in July 2018.
Valenzuela received 11 years for voluntary manslaughter and an additional 18 years on enhancements, including a strike prior offense and using a knife.
“I believe this was a fair and just disposition,” said Deputy District Attorney Courtney Lewis, who prosecuted the case.
While Valenzuela had initially been charged with murder, that charge was dropped in April as part of a plea deal in exchange for Valenzuela pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter and the enhancements, according to court records.
On July 25, 2018, officers were sent to the 1300 block of Gage Street at around 12:30 a.m. after getting a report of a stabbing. The officers found Richie Valenzuela with several stab wounds.
He was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead later that morning, BPD said.
Ralph Valenzuela was located by police later that day in the 8500 block of Kern Canyon Road and was subsequently arrested and booked into the Kern County Jail.
Valenzuela initially denied any involvement in his brother’s death, according to court documents.
BPD said a witness told them that Richie Valenzuela had run up to her, told her that he had been stabbed and asked her to call 911, after which he began running again. According to court documents, Richie’s brother caught up with him and was attempting to put him in a Honda Accord when police showed up.
BPD said Ralph Valenzuela claimed he was trying to take his brother to the hospital. He was initially detained but was eventually released at the scene. He wasn’t arrested until around 5 p.m. on July 25, after BPD had conducted an investigation into the incident.
Lewis said the death happened after there had been an argument between the two brothers that turned physical.
“They first started to have a normal fist fight and then the defendant pulled out a knife and stabbed (his brother),” she said. “This is a tragic case. It’s tragic for the family. One person lost his life and the other is going to prison.”