Football player sentenced for killing teammate at New Year’s Eve party

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The Vigil family has been without their son, brother, and nephew since 2021. That’s when a New Year’s Eve party ended in Josh Vigil’s death.

“I can stand here before you your honor today, and testify that time does not heal our wounds,” Stephanie Romero, Vigil’s mom, said in court Wednesday.

Joaquin Sanchez was charged with second-degree murder. State prosecutor Sherri Trevino said Sanchez intentionally shot Vigil and tried to blame everyone but himself.

“He says in his interview, ‘he told me to do it.’ My brother could have stopped me, he should have punched me in the face, he should have done whatever, anybody else in the party could have stopped me,” Trevino said. “He’s acknowledging blame, and accountability to anyone else that could have prevented him from doing this. Except for himself.”

Sanchez and Vigil were on the football team together at West Las Vegas High School at the time of the deadly shooting. Vigil was also on the team with his twin brother, Antonio.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sanchez was back in court for his sentencing.

While Sanchez admitted to firing his parent’s gun at Vigil, the defense argued Sanchez didn’t want to kill him.

“What is justice? Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hurt Joaquin as much as possible. Try to balance scales that can never be balanced,” said Alan Maestas, Sanchez’s defense attorney.

Vigil’s family asked for the maximum sentence and talked about how hard the last few years have been.

“At Antonio’s high school graduation, there was an empty chair. He didn’t get to share that special moment with his twin brother. He now must journey through life without his best friend,” Vigil’s aunt Melissa Hernandez said.

Then Sanchez himself spoke, taking responsibility for his actions.

“Josh lost his life because of what I did. Because of my actions. Everyone who was there that night is changed forever. Now the Vigil family has to live with that pain,” Sanchez said.

The judge decided to give Sanchez the maximum sentence of 18 years, but gave credit for time served. That means Sanchez will serve 15 years.

Judge Michael Aragon addressed Sanchez directly afterward.

“This was not a mistake, Mr. Sanchez, you made a calculated decision. And that decision took the life of your friend,” he said.

Vigil’s family says they were relieved to finally get what feels like justice.

“We needed this. I don’t just think for me, but for all victims of violence everywhere, for every parent that has to bury their child, that still has a case that hasn’t been solved,” Hernandez said.