Midland man sentenced to 60 years for 2020 murder

Gavel and scales of justice
Gavel and scales of justice(MGN)
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 3:29 PM CDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf announced that a 53-year-old Midland man was sentenced late Thursday morning to 60 years in prison by a Midland County jury. 

Samuel Sanchez Moreno was charged with Murder.

After hearing evidence throughout the week, the jury found Moreno guilty late Wednesday afternoon after less than an hour of deliberations.  After hearing evidence on the issue of punishment Thursday morning, the jury then deliberated, again for less than an hour, before announcing the verdict of 60 years in prison and a $5000 fine.

The evidence presented in the case showed that Moreno and the victim, Justin Zatovich, were involved in an ongoing dispute over the ownership of a house on November 9, 2020, when Moreno and two other individuals pulled the victim from his home at 506 South Mineola in Midland.

According to the evidence, Mr. Zatovich was shot, stabbed multiple times, and left to die on the threshold of the home.

Footage from a home security video was crucial evidence presented at the trial.  One of the individuals involved, John Thomas Sepulveda, had previously been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the killing after a guilty plea in September of 2021.

The other person alleged to have participated in the killing, Brad Michael Beck, still awaits trial.  During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Moreno had previously been to prison for residential burglaries committed in the 1980s.

Under the law, Moreno will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 30 years of his sentence.  Eligibility for parole is not a guarantee that parole will be granted.  Any amount of the fine assessed that is ultimately collected will be paid to the State of Texas.

The case was prosecuted by Midland County Assistant District Attorneys Lisa Borden and Ryan Hansen.   Moreno was represented by Midland attorney Mark Dettman.  The trial was held in the 385th District Court and presided over by Judge Leah G. Robertson.