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A San Francisco who killed a romantic rival outside a Pittsburg restaurant was sentenced to more than 43 years in prison today. Erik Yasahiro Smith, 32, received the sentence in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez today after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting 29-year-old Luis Perez of Pittsburg on Sept. 26, 2006. Smith was also convicted for a subsequent crime spree that brought charges including shooting at an unoccupied vehicle, arson, dissuading witnesses and escaping from jail while awaiting felony charges. Prosecutors said Smith shot Perez several times in front of a Nation’s Giant Hamburgers restaurant on Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg after learning that Perez and Smith’s wife were having an extramarital affair. An accomplice, Marcell Thatcher of San Francisco, drove Smith from the scene after the shooting and was later sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
The day after the killing, police said Smith set fire to a vehicle and shot at parked cars. About a month after he was arrested, Smith attempted to escape from county jail in Martinez but was stopped, according to prosecutors. He was originally charged with murder for Perez’ killing and last week accepted a plea deal that lessened the charge to involuntary manslaughter. Addressing the court today, David Perez remembered his brother Luis Perez as a hard-working, responsible man who loved his young daughter. “I know my brother didn’t deserve this,” he said tearfully. Blanca Hernandez, Perez’ ex-wife, told the court today that she had been happily married to the victim when she learned he was having an affair with Smith’s wife. “She was supposed to make him happy,” she said, addressing Smith. “Instead, she instigated his murder which you committed. I hope you rot in hell.” In court today, Smith apologized to Perez’ family and to his own family for killing him. “I didn’t think about all the pain I would cause for my choices,” he said. “Something just snapped inside of me, and I made a bad choice — I gotta deal with that for the rest of my life.”
The defendant’s mother, Kay Dorsey, also apologized to Perez’ family members today. She said Smith never recovered from the death of his infant son and longed to marry and have children. “No one has won — we’ve all lost someone,” she told the victim’s family members. “This is the saddest day of my life, and I’m sure it is for you, too.”
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