Tribune Opinion: It’s good to see John Sandoval put away for good, even if it meant bargaining with a killer
April 9, 2017
We feel awful for the family of Tina Tournai Sandoval for facing such a painful decision.
But if we may say so, we think they made the right one.
They raised her well, by all accounts. She was a hard-working nurse who had just landed her dream job.
But Tournai Sandoval made an easy mistake. She married a pathetic lowlife. And when she realized it just three years later, before she could escape and start a new life she deserved, he killed her at their final meeting.
Not only did John Sandoval steal their daughter, he kept his dark secret about her whereabouts from them for 22 years, even when they suspected him above no one else.
A few weeks ago, the members of Tina's family were given a choice: Do you want to risk another chance to put away Sandoval for more time, or will you allow a plea bargain?
On March 31, with the family's blessing, Sandoval pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He will, at the family's behest, be behind bars or under supervision until he is 70 years old.
It is nice the family had a choice at all. For those 22 years, Sandoval took that from them, too.
But the Weld District Attorney's Office convicted him, even with no body, thanks to some excellent work from them and law enforcement.
Sandoval's conviction was overturned, and our district attorney, undeterred, was preparing for a second trial when Sandoval reached out with an offer.
If Sandoval led them to Tina's body, would they accept a plea for second-degree murder and less time?
It was already pretty difficult for Sandoval to establish himself as an even worse person in our minds, but burying Tina's body in the grave of a World War II veteran does the trick.
This may seem like an easy decision. Sandoval's plea puts him away until he'll be nothing but a bitter old man, and the fact the court overturned the first conviction meant a second one was no guarantee.
And this gives her family the answer to a terrible, gnawing mystery.
Then again, they had to bargain with the man who killed their daughter.
We would feel better about a deal with the devil. And this deal did ensure Sandoval will eventually be free, if good fortune does not bestow us and he lives to be 70.
Still, if we may say so, we think Tina's family did indeed make the right call.
Watching Sandoval walk out of the courtroom a free man would have made us all sick. And as hard as it is to see Sandoval enter a plea, it does give Tina's family a chance to say goodbye.
We hope Tina's family takes a little comfort in what we assume and hope will be a muted ceremony to lay her to rest. Sandoval stole that, as well, from them for more than two decades.
They've earned that right.
— Tribune Editorial Board