OXNARD, Calif. (KABC) -- A transient who smiled before attacking a 71-year-old grandmother and an 80-year-old man was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday.
The grandmother, Armida Castro, died a week after she was hospitalized for her injuries.
In an emotional hearing in Ventura County Superior Court, Castro's family asked for the strongest penalty for 56-year-old defendant Adam Barcenas.
"We are hoping that you can see how heinous his act was, beating and kicking a helpless ailing woman. This was not merely abuse. This was an evil cowardly act," said Castro's son-in-law, Jose Alejandro Navarette.
Castro's family can't understand why Barcenas was not tried for homicide.
According to the medical examiner Castro died eight days after the attack because of a blood clot that was caused by her injuries. But the opinion was not conclusive. The Ventura County District Attorney says Castro had pre-existing medical conditions that put her at risk and that stronger evidence was needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Barcenas caused her death.
Instead of facing a potential life sentence, Barcenas pleaded guilty to two elder abuse felonies and a misdemeanor for resisting arrest for a sentence of six years in state prison.
Barcenas suffers from mental illness but stabilizes when he is under treatment according to a report cited in court.
His sentence would have been less than six years but Barcenas had a prior strike for robbery. The judge noted that Barcenas turned himself in the day he committed the crime, apologized and returned the money. He said he wanted it for bus fare to go home.
The court instructed Barcenas to seek counseling in prison but the Castro family worries about the day that the smiling Barcenas goes free.
"I believe that Adam Barcenas is a menace to society and that Oxnard does not want him on the streets," said the victim's daughter Marie Hamilton.