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Jan 25, 2013 7:52 PM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News

Convicted killer sentenced to life in prison

BILLINGS - A convicted killer was sentenced to life in prison Friday afternoon, in the 2011 murder of Danny Valenzuela.

On March 13, 2011 Cleveland Boyer, who was 21-years-old at the time of the shooting, gunned down Danny Valenzuela, 21, at the Holiday Station at the corner of 6th Avenue and North 27th Street. The motive behind the killing, was apparently fueled by a relationship between Valenzuela and the mother of one of Boyer's three children.

During the sentencing Friday, Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito told Judge Gregory Todd that to this day, Boyer shows no signs of remorse in the shooting of Valenzuela.

Twito reminded the courtroom that Boyer claimed he was defending himself, despite the fact that Valenzuela had his back to Boyer when he opened fire. Valenzuela suffered at least eight gunshot wounds from a .22-caliber pistol. He died on March 19.

Twito stated that following the shooting, Boyer formulated a plan to escape and get away with the murder. The County Attorney also suggested that at the time of his arrest, Boyer was on the cusp of getting involved in something much bigger, something that threatened the community. Boyer was under investigation by the ATF, in a large-scale firearms case.

The county attorney asked the judge to sentence Boyer to life in prison for the deliberate homicide charge, plus 20 years for using a weapon and attempting to hide the gun after the crime was committed.

"He has not shown that he can be a productive member of society," Twito told the judge.

Boyer's public defender, Matthew Klaus, argued the life sentence, stating that the statewide average of a non-life sentence for homicide is between 60 and 70 years.

Klaus told Judge Todd that the homicide was fueled by rivalry. Boyer did not randomly select someone to kill, like some life-sentence murder cases. Klaus argued that Boyer did not deserve a life sentence because of that.

Following Twito and Klaus' recommendations, Boyer addressed the courtroom. He said he was sorry for Danny's death and that he once looked at him as a brother.

"I'm sorry for Danny's loss. I feel it too," Boyer said to the judge.

In response, Judge Todd told the defendant that he did not sense any remorse from Boyer.

Judge Todd stated that the murder was clearly pre-meditated based on text conversations before and after the homicide. Following the shooting, Boyer fled Billings to Bozeman. While in Bozeman, Judge Todd stated that Boyer was attempting to disguise himself and possibly flee the country. The judge also referenced the tattoo on Boyer's neck that reads, "Love to Hate."

The judge also condemned Boyer for firing a gun several times in a public place, where other people could have been injured.

Judge Todd sentenced Boyer to life in prison with 20 additional years for using a weapon and attempting to hide that weapon after the crime.

Boyer showed minimal emotion during the Friday sentencing, but as he exited the courtroom he had a smile on his face.

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