SAN DIEGO - Judge Baldemar Garza, with the 229th Judicial District Court, made a ruling Wednesday to deny a request filed by Brian Mark Kopatz claiming he had "ineffective counsel."
"The court adopts the State's Memorandum, Findings of Fact, and Conclusions of Law as its own and recommends that the relief Brian Mark Kopatz requests should be denied," according to court records.
Kopatz was convicted of three murders and an attempted murder in January 2000, at the age of 26. According to court records, he shot and killed three people and injured another person.
Kopatz went to a sports bar where he killed Jesus Vallejo Sanchez and Ana Hinojosa, and injured Jason Rodriguez. He also went to Commissioner Rene Perez's residence and shot the commissioner's wife, Alma Rosa Perez, who passed away in a hospital.
Rodriguez was shot in the lower left leg. He had approximately six surgeries and countless of hours in physical therapy. Almost two decades later and Rodriguez still has complications from being shot in the leg.
"It made me upset to learn that Brian was going to be in court questioning his sentence. Knowing what he did and trying to get out of his sentences," Rodriguez said. "I am relieved knowing that the judged denied his (appeal). It's hard to think of what would happen if he was to be released."
Kopatz didn't speak much at the hearing on July 2, but his niece apologizes for his actions many years ago.
“I’d like to start off by setting the record straight and letting the public know that we have never tried to justify Brian’s actions. We know what he did was awful and nothing we can say will take away the pain and anguish that the victims families are feeling. Brian also understands the magnitude of his actions and does show remorse...,” said Marcella Gonzales, Kopatz's niece. “Brian is not expecting to be released. The reason for this hearing was to make sure the plea deal he agreed to is what he is serving; no more, no less... I am fully aware that the victims family and friends suffered a big loss that night, but we also lost a very special person to us. On behalf of Brian, I want to apologize to the family and friends of the victims involved. I hope that one day, they are able to find peace.”
The writ filed by Kopatz claimed he received "ineffective counsel." On July 2, Solis questioned Attorney Sam Fugate, Kopatz's court appointed attorney at his trial, in a short hearing.
“When we learned that Brian filed his appeal old wounds were opened. Nineteen years ago a piece of our hearts were taken away. We'll never heal and we will never have closure. What Brian did affected the victims' families and the community,” said Rene Perez Jr. on behalf of him and his brother, Erick, sons of Alma Rosa Perez. “What he did was very wrong. He caused us all pain, hurt and turmoil...I agree with the judge's decision on denying Brian's (appeal). We haven't healed, unfortunately, we have learned to live without our mother. Her grandchildren are left without a grandmother's love. She won't be there and she hasn't been their for the milestones. They must live life without her.”
Koptaz was sentenced to three life in prison sentences for the murders and a sentence of 25 years for the attempted murder. However, Kopatz believed he was going to do 50 years maximum instead of the 50 years minimum to life for the murders.
The ruling will be filed by the district clerk who will "transmit" them "along with the writ transcript to the clerk of Court of Criminal Appeals as required by law." The Fourth Court of Appeals will review the case and Judge Garza's recommendation to make their own ruling.