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Man sentenced to 12 years for killing roommate in Gilbert

Posted at 10:34 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-28 17:08:03-04

The family of a Valley man who was shot and killed by his roommate in 2016, does not feel justice was served after the killer was sentenced to 12 years in prison Friday. 

In August 2016, 23-year-old Zachary Penton tweeted: "I need to move out of my place before I viciously murder my roommates." Two days later, police say Penton shot and killed 41-year-old Danny Garofalo when he claimed Danny became violent. 

"It's horrifying to see, to know that man over there, took your son's life," said Danny's father, Dennis Garofalo. 

Dennis and Barbara Garofalo made their fourth and final trip from Florida for the trial.

The jury came back with second-degree murder charges, as Penton claimed self-defense. Penton then pleaded down to manslaughter.

Penton, a convenience store manager who had lived in the suburban Gilbert home for two months, told investigators that a struggle broke out when Garofalo, who lived in the house, came into his bedroom and told Penton he had to move out. Penton said he was acting in self-defense after Garofalo tackled him, took away his phone and threatened to kill him.

Penton told police that he then reached under his pillow for his loaded semi-automatic handgun and opened fire after Garofalo frightened him by speaking irrationally. Garofalo suffered two gunshot wounds to the torso. Penton then called 911 to report the shooting.

Prosecutors have said Penton, who was not hurt, could have run away or called for help rather than shoot the unarmed Garofalo.

The judge sentenced Penton to 12 years in prison, instead of the max of 21. 

"Twelve years," said Dennis Garofalo. "I was sick. I wanted to get up and scream, that there wasn't justice for my son. My son's life is worth 12 years. As far as I'm concerned, it was worth a lot more."

Another tweet from Penton, weeks before the shooting, said: "Holy BLANK buying a gun is so easy."

The Garofalos claim the tweets were shrugged off by the defense lawyers.

"The tweets, they can say what they like," said Barbara Garofalo. "But to me, that is premeditation."

Danny's mother has a message for her son's killer if Penton has a family after prison. 

"I hope that he will one day realize what he did," said Barbara Garofalo. "I don't think he will until he has children or a child of his own."

Penton read an apology in the courtroom before his sentencing, but the Garofalo's say they still feel like they don't have closure.