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Family Angry Over Killer’s Sentence in Death of Off-Duty Stockton Officer

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San Joaquin County resident Isidro Mesa was sentenced Monday for felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor manslaughter in the death of Stockton police Ofc. Justin Kepler last August.

"My heart is just breaking. It feels like another loss," said his mother, Rhonda Kepler.

"They managed to kill him twice. But this time it was the court system that did it," said Justin's brother, Kyle Kepler.

Mesa's sentence: eight months in prison and five years probation.

"Eight months, with his time credits, he's out in three weeks. He'll be home for Christmas most likely," Kyle Kepler said. "Christmas for me is gonna be really hard. My brother loved Christmas. So without him there in the morning ... he's an adult and he's still banging on my door at 6 in the morning to get up and go open gifts."

Officer Justin Kepler was off duty on his motorcycle when Mesa admitted seeing him coming down the roadway and trying to beat him in the intersection of Highway 120 and Brennen Road.

But Mesa sideswiped him, causing him to fly off his motorcycle. Mesa left him to die without as much as a phone call to get Justin Kepler help.

"If I hit a cat, I feel bad for the family of that cat. He did not even care about us. He just wanted to go home to his family. He didn't care about us," said Shelly Kepler, Justin's sister.

"The only remorse he shows in that is him getting caught," Kyle Kepler said.

The family feels the justice system failed Justin, but has shown leniency toward his killer, who was offered a lesser sentence by pleading guilty to the charges.

"He was here illegally. If he hadn't have been here, this wouldn't have happened," his mother said.

"He has no business driving. He admitted to taking drugs. But no chemical test was done. And then, to top that all off, after all this, the court's not even going to deport him," Kyle Kepler said.

"By choosing not to deport him, by choosing to give him such an easy sentence, they basically said that it's OK to come to our country illegally, to kill somebody in a horrible way, and you get less than a slap on the wrist for it," Shelly Kepler said.

Calls to the DA's office and immigration for comment were not returned.

"No one in his final moment, the one time he really needed help, no one stepped up to the plate to help him out. No one had the courage to do the right thing. The police didn't, the DA didn't, and the judge didn't. No one had the courage and the backbone that my brother had on a daily basis," Kyle Kepler said.