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Former Air Force Sergeant Sentenced to 41 Years in Prison for Murdering Federal Guard in Attack on Courthouse

Steven Carrillo

Steven Carrillo

Under the terms of a plea agreement, a former Air Force sergeant has been sentenced to 41 years in prison for murdering a federal prison guard and trying to murder another. Defendant Steven Carrillo, 33, pleaded guilty back in February to killing Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, in an attack on an Oakland courthouse.

“Steven Carrillo was sentenced today to 41 years in prison for murder and attempted murder in connection with the May 29, 2020, drive-by shooting at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Oakland, California,” U.S. DOJ spokesman Abraham Simmons of the Northern District of California told Law&Crime in an email.

The defense reportedly noted as a mitigating factor that Carrillo’s wife died by suicide in 2018. At least one of his late wife’s family members has blamed him for that, however. Monika Carrillo’s great-aunt expressed clear thoughts about the defendant after his charges in a similar, ongoing state case for allegedly murdering Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller in an ambush.

“He did a lot of damage to our family just by destroying my niece,” Charlotte Tolliver-Lopes told the Bay Area News Group, according to The Santa Cruz Sentinel in 2020. “It devastated my family.”

Tolliver-Lopes essentially called the defendant a coward, saying the alleged ambush was in character for him.

“Sneak up behind you — that’s the way he would behave,” she said. “I don’t think he has the guts to face you. He’s the type who would do it around the corner. He wouldn’t confront anyone dead on — a woman, yeah, he feels superior to them, but a man, no.”

Prosecutors have said that Carrillo killed Underwood in a drive-by shooting on May 29, 2020. Co-defendant Robert Alvin Justus Jr. allegedly served as the getaway driver. His case is ongoing, with a status conference set for Aug. 24, online records show.

Carrillo staged the attack in the wake of 2020 protests and unrest after then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded murdering George Floyd. The defense said that Carrillo became engaged with the anti-government boogaloo movement online after his wife’s death.

“This is a great time to perpetuate the destruction of the government,” Carrillo reportedly wrote. “I just wanna perpetuate the hate and violence towards the governments attack dog.”

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said she would not have accepted the plea agreement if she saw “evil” in Carrillo.

Underwood’s cousin Tammy Evans took issue with Gonzalez Rogers’ concerns with finding a “sufficient” sentence.

“When you say ‘sufficient,’ I hear you but I don’t hear you,” Evans said, according to The Mercury News. “No amount of time will ever be sufficient for the amount of love we lost.”

“Your wounds of dishonor are self-inflicted,” Underwood’s sister Angela Underwood Jacobs told defendant Carrillo at sentencing. “You have failed at being human.”

As mitigating factors, the defense pointed to defendant Carrillo’s lack of criminal history, his quick guilty plea, and his being treated with psychotropic drugs, according to Mercury News.

[Image via Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office]

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