Man receives life sentence for 2018 murder ofgirlfriend, dog
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A Lake Tahoe man who murdered his girlfriend and dog in 2018 has been given a life sentence.
Jeremy Virgo, 49, on Friday was sentenced by El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury to 125 years to life for first-degree murder, possession of an illegal firearm and assaulting a police officer, in addition to an 18-year, 8-month sentence for previous crimes.
Virgo shot his girlfriend, Debra Ann Patton, along with their dog with a shotgun on Feb. 11, 2018, in Tahoma, on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore.
Prior to the sentencing, Virgo’s attorney, James Warden, read a statement that his client had written.
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Because Virgo hadn’t been able to speak at prior trials, he wanted to make a statement.
“First of all, I’d like to say that I am deeply sorrowful for what happened and I think about it everyday,” the statement read. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I know there’s no taking it back. If I could, I would do anything to make things right. I realize that there is not much I can do.”
A local member of the Church of Christ, Ron Glaser, has been visiting Virgo almost every week for the past two years. Glaser said he’s seen a change in Virgo over the past two years.
“I don’t tell him what to do, but I give him choices,” Glaser said. “We talk a lot about choices we make. He sees his wrong choice.”
“Since I’ve been in (jail) I have come to believe in Jesus Christ and I read my Bible every day and I plan on getting baptized when I get the chance,” Virgo’s statement continued. “I am trying to turn my life around at least.”
Patton’s sister, Mandy Palmateer-Perez, and her family, were also present at the sentencing.
“The horror of losing Debbie in such a brutal manner has forever changed our family,” Palmateer-Perez said to the court. “It is a terrible nightmare you can’t wake up from.”
She continued to say her health, along with the health of their other sister, has been negatively impacted by the case.
“The pain and anguish you inflicted upon my family is a lifetime sentence we don’t deserve and cannot ever escape from,” Palmateer-Perez said. “It is the request of my family that the maximum penalty for the crime that the defendant was convicted for be imposed.”
The judge said Virgo might be remorseful, but she was still horrified by his crime.
“This was a horrifically tragic case,” Kingsbury said. “I can’t imagine what the victim felt in her final moments, fleeing from shotgun blasts.”
Virgo qualifies for parole but not until he serves his first 125 years. It’s nearly impossible he’ll be released, but because he qualifies for parole, he’s able to get a job in prison.
Glaser and others are going to work to find him a job.
He will serve his time in Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy.
Laney Griffo is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of The Union based in South Lake Tahoe.
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