A Montana man was sentenced to 100 years in prison for unintentionally shooting and killing his 8-year-old daughter while firing shots at the girl’s mother and his son.
Tony Louis Valez, 66, of Helena, learned his fate on Wednesday, when Lewis and Clark District Court Judge Mike Menahan handed down the sentence.
In September, Valez pleaded guilty to one count of deliberate homicide, KTVH reports.
He was initially charged with one count of deliberate homicide, two counts of attempted deliberate homicide and one count of criminal endangerment, KVTH reports.
Valez was arrested on July 10, 2022, after he killed his 8-year-old daughter, Arianna Valez, when he flew into a rage, authorities said, the Independent Record reports.
Valez believed that two women had come to the house to evict him and he lost his temper, according to court documents, according to the Independent Record.
He grabbed a gun from his bedroom and began shooting, court records show, KRTV reports.
He told police he shot his partner, Heather Hall, until she fell to the ground, the Independent Record reports. He then began shooting at his 18-year-old son, police said.
He missed, and instead shot his daughter in the back as she was trying to run from the gunfire, Helena Police Department Sgt. Adam Shanks testified, the Independent Record reports.
Arianna was standing on the back deck at the top of the stairs when she was struck by one of the bullets, which caused her to fall off the deck. She was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
“He felt justified in trying to shoot (his partner and son),” Shanks said from the witness stand. “I don’t think he initially realized he had shot Arianna,” Shanks said.
Valez’s attorney asked for a 40-year sentence.
District Attorney Kevin Downs recommended a sentence of 100 years, which the judge found “appropriate and warranted,” the Independent Record reports.
“I just can’t believe being evicted would justify picking up a handgun in that small of a space with children present,” the judge said during the sentencing hearing, the Independent Record reports.
“He engaged in dangerous behavior that put everyone’s life at risk and intended to bring harm to the adults present.”
Valez appeared at the hearing via Zoom.
Arianna’s mother is still mourning her daughter’s loss.
“The day Arianna died, so did a part of my heart,” Heather Hall said, KTVH reports. “I feel lost, I don’t know what to do. It’s a never-ending nightmare of pain. Night and day it’s this prevailing thought that she died, and I lived.”
Valez, who will be eligible for parole when he is 91, apologized for his actions.
“I’m sorry for all this,” he said. “I can’t undo what I’ve done. The pain and the misery will last a lifetime and I’m sorry for that.”