PHOENIX - A man accused of murdering two children playing at a park will not go to prison, after a judge ruled Friday he was incompetent to stand trial and sent him to a mental health facility.
Sharon Bonilla, a neighbor who found the two young boys and called 911, spoke out to ABC15 News for the first time, after learning of Joe Sauceda Gallegos' fate.
"It's kind of messed up," she said in tears. "He needs to suffer just like them little boys suffered."
Bonilla and others in the neighborhood said they were just starting to recover after the brutal murders of 10-year-old Edwin Pellecier and 7-year-old Jesse Ramirez two days before Christmas in 2008.
"That's the worst thing I ever seen," said Bonilla. "They looked older when I saw them out there laying on the ground."
Other neighbors also expressed anger at the judge's decision, and said they fear for their children's safety after the crime.
"Being a parent myself, I don't know what I would do if something like that ever happened to my son," said Hector Real, who plays with his toddler at the park.
Police say Gallegos beat the boys to death with a baseball bat.
"They liked to play video games," said Alexis Covert, whose parents' surveillance camera captured Gallegos walking down the sidewalk with a bat moments after the beatings.
"They played at the park a lot, every day," she said. "They played football right here."
Gallegos had two children living out of state the same ages as the boys he killed. His family said he is schizophrenic, and expert testimony in the court proceeding concluded he would pose a danger to himself or others if he was not immediately hospitalized.
"That guy wasn't right in the head," said Real. "He should have went to trial. He got off too easy. He didn't just kill one, he killed two."
Bonilla, who said she will never forget the painful discovery of the bloody children at their neighborhood playground, agreed.
"He needs to be just put right in prison for the rest of his life," she said.
Covert, who still plays at the park with other children in the neighborhood, said she also saw the beaten boys, and hopes "they rest in peace."
Gallegos, 38, faced two counts of first-degree murder.
Maricopa County Superior Court authorities said Gallegos will be sent to the Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center instead of facing the murder charges after a judge ruled Gallegos did not understand the charges against him and was "non-restorable."
Police located Gallegos during a door-to-door search. He was taken into custody when officers discovered he had an outstanding arrest warrant.
Authorities say after his arrest investigators found evidence implicating Gallegos in the beatings.
He was originally charged with two counts of child abuse, but later charged with murder when the boys died.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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