Michael Sotelo was a National Guardsman and lifelong Paso Robles resident.
According to witness testimony during the trial, Rosealle McCulloch, 25, and her husband Justin McCulloch, 30, devised a plan in Washington state in September 2000 to kill Sotelo and collect his $250,000 military life insurance benefit.
Rosealle McCulloch believed she would be a beneficiary because she had a son with Sotelo in 1997.
She was mistaken. Sotelo's parents turned out to be the sole beneficiaries.
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But, not aware of that fact, the McCullochs, who ran a so-called crime family that claimed to have mafia ties, offered to pay Mark Weyand, 22, $25,000 to kill Sotelo.
On the morning of the murder, Weyand stabbed Sotelo repeatedly as he walked from his Paso Robles home to his truck to leave for his job at Camp San Luis Obispo. It was Nov. 7, 2001 - the victim's 27th birthday.
Sotelo died less than an hour later at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton. He was survived by his son Daniel, and daughter Caleigh Camacho, who was born five months after the murder.
The McCullochs and Weyand were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The District Attorney's Office did not pursue the death penalty. With the conviction of murder and special enhancements, the only other punishment option for the trio was life in prison without parole.
During the trial, Sotelo's stepmother tearfully, and sometimes loudly, told the convicted defendants -- the "evil three," she said -- how heartbroken she was that they killed Sotelo, whom she helped raise.
Looking at the boyish Weyand, Celia Sotelo said, "I don't want to hear how sorry you are, because if you did not get caught, you would have done it again and again!"
Christina Camacho, Sotelo's 28-year-old girlfriend, told Rosealle McCulloch that, "I just hope one day you will realize that your son will have to live with the fact that it was his mother that killed his father."
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching statement came from someone who wasn't even in the courtroom.
Daniel Sotelo, the victim's 5-year-old son, wrote this three-sentence letter that his grandfather read to the judge: "I miss my daddy, the whole family miss my dad. Try to get them to stay in jail and never broke out of jail.
"Now all the pretty angels are watching over us, even God is watching over us and my dad is watching over us."