Daly City cabdriver sentenced 

Jerry Cabonce, the Daly City man whose stabbing of two San Francisco plainclothes officers led to a four-hour standoff with police, will spend 79 years to life in prison for attempted murder.

Cabonce, 44, was sentenced Monday for nearly killing Sgt. Inspector Pat Correa and Sgt. Inspector Lea Militello on Aug. 11, 2003. The murder attempts occurred hours after the former taxi driver shot his pellet gun at a mother and her toddler.

Cabonce, a former taxicab driver who suffers from a mental illness, was convicted Jan. 31 of two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon after he was found competent to stand trial.

"He’s had a number of diagnoses, all suffering from mental illness," Deputy District Attorney Al Giannini said. "But not all people are absolved of responsibility because they have a mental illness. When their criminality isn’t the result of their mental illness, they are to be held accountable just like everyone else."

On the day of the incident, Cabonce drove his cab to San Francisco, where he learned that he was going to lose disability benefits, Giannini said. He became agitated, pulled out a pellet gun and randomly shot a woman and her 3-year-old son on Powell Street before speeding away.

While investigating the shooting, plainclothes officers Militello and Correa went to Cabonce’s house on Woodrow Street in Daly City, where he unveiled a knife and stabbed them both in the chest.

"As [the officers] approached the car, they didn’t realize that the man standing next to it was the suspect," Giannini said. "He damn near killed them both."

A four-hour standoff ended when a SWAT team found Cabonce sleeping in his bedroom with a near-empty tequila bottle, Giannini said.

The trial largely hinged on a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that found that suspects with mental disabilities could be forced to take medication in order to be fit to stand trial. Defense attorney Vincent O’Malley could not be reached for comment.

Cabonce’s mother, Amy, said the sentencing was excessive because of his schizophrenia. He mistook the officers for thugs, she said. "I asked him what happened and he was holding the knife and the air gun. He told me that there were inmates outside who wanted to hurt him," she said.

She hopes her son will pursue the ministry while incarcerated.

"One thing I said to him was that God has a purpose for everything," she said. "I told him, ‘God loves you very much. That’s why you are there. Twenty-four hours a day, we need the Lord.’"

bfoley@examiner.com

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