MANATEE -- A man was sentenced Friday afternoon to 40 years in prison as part of a plea agreement for killing another man last year.
Alfonso Cano-Cano, 35, was indicted by a grand jury in April on a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a man stemming from an argument two years prior.
Oscar Cortez-Ruiz, 24, Palmetto, was found at 3:30 a.m. March 29 in a driveway in the 500 block of 60th Avenue East after being shot in his car. He had taken someone home from the El Paisano Restaurant and Bar, 5803 15th St. E., when another car drove up, Cano-Cano emerged and shot Cor
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Cortez-Ruiz then got out of his car but collapsed in the driveway. He was taken to Blake Medical Center where he died.
Cano-Cano was arrested two days later and charged with second-degree murder. He has since been held without bail at the Manatee County jail.
When he was arrested, Cano-Cano told detectives he shot Cortez-Ruiz because of the fight the two men had two years earlier.
Detectives used surveillance video showing the suspect's vehicle to identify Cano-Cano as a suspect. They learned he had seen Cortez-Ruiz at El Paisano, followed him and shot him.
"The court's going to go ahead and accept the guilty plea," Manatee Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll said after nearly two hours discussing the case with several breaks.
The judge went back and forth with Cano-Cano for a while, asking if he understood what was being discussed Friday.
"The plea deal that's on the table is you're going to plead guilty to 40 years and you must serve at least 25 years of that. Do you understand that? Has anyone suggested to you or told you a date that you would be released from prison?" Carroll asked Cano-Cano.
"No," Cano-Cano said through an interpreter.
"Now after the 25-year minimum mandatory provision, the Department of Corrections may award some type of gaintime or incentive time, but that has nothing to do with what the court's doing today and you have to understand that, if you plead guilty, you may serve every day of 40 years. Do you understand that?" Carroll asked.
"Every day of the 40 years?" Cano-Cano asked. "That's a lot."
Through his interpreter, Cano-Cano asked Carroll if there was a discount in time he'd have to serve.
"The discount, sir, is not in my control," Carroll said. "It is in the jail official's control, but I want to make sure you understand no one is promising you a discount."
"It's the same as life," Cano-Cano said of the sentence before accepting the plea agreement.
The left side of the courtroom was filled with several of the victim's family members. The right side of the room was empty.
Cynthia Diane Cortes , the victim's aunt, addressed the court on behalf of the family.
"We agree with the sentence, the plea, even though it won't bring our loved one back," the 56-year-old told Carroll. "My prayers that God have mercy on him."
Outside the courtroom, Cortes said the hearing brought up the hurt again of what happened to her nephew.
"He was very loved by all of us, all of us, and he'll surely be missed," she said.
Cortes tilted her head back and looked at the sky, her voice shaking.
"But we know he's up in heaven," she said.
Cortez-Ruiz's sister, Areli Cortez, stood nearby with teary eyes.
"We feel a little better," the 30-year-old said in Spanish. "It's not what we would have wanted, but it's better than nothing."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. Follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.