The Archbold man who gunned down a former Wauseon resident in a city parking lot last year during a domestic dispute will spend the next 14 years in prison.
Emotions were raw Friday in Fulton County Common Pleas Court as Judge James E. Barber handed Romauldo Cordoba Jr. a sentence of 11 years for one felony count of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 27-year-old Joshua McJilton. Judge Barber, who called Cordoba’s actions “a lot of irresponsibility,” added an additional three years for a gun specification on the charge.
He also sentenced Cordoba to 30 days on a misdemeanor count of domestic violence against his estranged wife, Melinda. It will be served concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.
The sentencing ends a nine-month saga that began when Cordoba stalked his wife to DB Downtown Billiards in Wauseon on April 25, 2015. After she exited the billiards hall just after 1 a.m. and entered her vehicle, Cordoba blocked her exit from the parking space with his SUV. He jumped from his vehicle and began banging on hers with a gun.
McJilton, a former Marine and former Wauseon resident who was visiting from Oceanside, Calif., exited his nearby vehicle to intervene. Cordoba fired a warning shot into the air as McJilton approached, then shot McJilton twice when he didn’t retreat. Cordoba fled the scene on foot.
McJilton was transported to the Fulton County Health Center, where he died from his injuries.
Cordoba then fled the city, but was captured later in Eagle Pass, Texas, by the U.S. Marshall’s Fugitive Task Force, near the Mexican border. He was found guilty of domestic violence and involuntary manslaughter following a three-day trial.
With one side of the courtroom gallery crowded with McJilton supporters, Cordoba quietly apologized, saying he never intended that night to hurt anyone.
But through tearful, angry impact statements, several of McJilton’s family members told him how devastating his actions have proven.
“You’re a big man when you have a gun, but you’re a sniveling coward when you don’t have a gun,” Joyce McJilton, his grandmother, told Cordoba. “You tore the heart of my whole family when you shot my grandson…He had many, many family members who loved him.”
She said, despite the verdict of involuntary manslaughter, she considers the shooting murder “because you shot him in the leg as he was falling, and you shot him again. He would have given you his last dollar or the shirt off his back. But you weren’t satisfied. You had to have his life.”
The victim’s father, Scott McJilton, choked up as he told Cordoba, “I’m so mad at you right now.” But he added, “I’ll forgive you man. You better think about what you did, buddy.”
During her emotional impact statement, McJilton’s mother, Alana Venia, demanded several times that Cordoba remain looking at her, once using an expletive to get his attention.
“Your wife has a husband, your kids have a father. I have no son, my only son,” she said.
Venia told Cordoba how she gave birth to McJilton without using painkillers. “I thought that was the worst pain I’d ever feel in my life. (But) you ripped the heart out of my body,” she said.
Prior to the sentencing, Cordoba’s attorney Chris Dreyer told the court the defendant feels remorse and understands the emotional pain he put McJilton’s family through. He asked for leniency if only because Cordoba has 11 children and four grandchildren, and suffers from depression.
Afterward, Fulton County Prosecutor Scott Haselman said the reason behind McJilton’s death “is really unspeakable to that family…Mr. McJilton, he died a hero trying to help someone else. And on that night, it really was that, in an instant, all of their lives have changed.”
Addressing the media outside the courtroom, Venia cried when asked how she would proceed. “Just try to keep going,” she said. “Try to come up with something else that matters in life.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.