Wichita man sentenced to life in prison for murder of 13-year-old boy

If the door had just swung open.

Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Burgess pondered that as he sentenced Alejandro Betancourt to life in prison Friday for the murder of a 13-year-old boy.

But before the door could open, guns began blasting, shooting Miguel Angel Andrade Martinez 10 times.

The boy wasn't the target that Alejandro Betancourt or his brother Eli Betancourt had planned as they sought retaliation for a fight involving another of their brothers.

If they had just allowed Miguel to open the door, Burgess said, they would have seen he was the wrong one.

"You hear about senseless crimes," Burgess said. "This is beyond senseless."

On April 15, a jury convicted Alejandro Betancourt, 27, of first-degree murder for aiding in the June 20, 2010, shooting. Two weeks later, after a second trial, younger brother Eli Betancourt was found guilty of firing one of the guns that killed Miguel.

"You are the older brother," Burgess said. "Eli probably looks up to you. All you had to do to stop this was say one word: 'No.' "

Instead, witnesses said, Alejandro Betancourt drove the car to Miguel's house and listened for the shots.

"I'd like to say I'm sorry about what happened to the little boy," Alejandro Betancourt said. "I didn't do it, but I'm sorry."

Witnesses and police said the men set out to avenge a fight that injured their brother, Daniel, three weeks earlier. Daniel's wife and a teen, Eddie Laurel, thought a man involved in that fight lived at the house in the 2400 block of North Jackson. He didn't.

Eli Betancourt awaits sentencing. Eddie Laurel, accused as the other shooter, is set for trial next month.

Silvia Martinez also talked about her front door, which had 10 bullet holes.

"I just want to ask for the same mercy they showed my son. He didn't even get to open the door," she told the judge.

Martinez said she doesn't feel safe anymore in her home.

"I always told my son that was the safest place they could be," she said through tears. "After that happened to my son, I don't know where to tell them where it is safe anymore."

Miguel Andrade Sr. talked about losing his son that Sunday morning — Father's Day.

"There's like a hole in me, because they took a piece of my life away," Andrade said.

Burgess tacked on 17 months for another conviction the jury gave Alejandro Betancourt: aiding the illegal discharge of a firearm at an occupied dwelling. Betancourt is eligible for parole after 25 years. If he's paroled, he would have to serve that 17 months before being released.

Public defender Steve Osburn had argued the sentences should run concurrently. He said his client did nothing more than Greg Patton, who had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against the other men.

"He's getting probation," Osburn said.

But prosecutor Trinity Muth said the shooting had horrified an entire city.

"For the entire community, the question will be who's on the other side of that door when there's a knock," Muth said.

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