Man gets life without parole for 1 of 2 SW Michigan slayings

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A man accused of killing two people in two counties in southwestern Michigan has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for one of the crimes.

A Kalamazoo County judge sentenced 33-year-old Zachary Patten on Monday after he was convicted last month of the first-degree murder of Graciela Portillo-Esparza last July.

The mother of four was fatally shot after stepping between her brother and Patten, who were arguing.

A detective testified Patten admitted shooting Portillo-Esparza, but said he was aiming for her brother, Oscar Portillo, the ex-boyfriend of Patten’s girlfriend.

Patten is also charged with murder in St. Joseph County. Police say he drove about 30 miles after killing Portillo-Esparza and shot his ex-wife’s husband. A trial date for that case hasn’t been set.

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