Former Auburn man’s killer gets 40-years-to-life prison sentence

By: Staff report
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A man convicted of killing a former Auburn resident was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison Tuesday. Joseph Kenneth Lopez, Jr., 21, was handed the maximum sentence of 43-years-to-life in prison Tuesday after an April conviction of second-degree murder in the death of Matthew Toste, according to Toste, a 32-year-old single father, was fatally shot in a downtown Santa Rosa parking garage in December 2006 when he and three other people were on their way to a nightclub. According to previous Journal reporting, Toste was the innocent victim in the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 2006 — the wrong person in the wrong garage at the wrong time, authorities said. Toste, who grew up in Auburn, had been at a company Christmas party and was walking across the garage to a nightclub with his girlfriend, his cousin and her husband, when a dispute arose and he was fatally shot twice in the chest. Two of the five suspects were arrested after the shooting but both were later released. A co-defendant, 30-year-old Paul Louis Whiterock, was cleared of all charges and released from jail. Whiterock had been charged with murder for allegedly helping Lopez get away. Three other co-defendants pleaded guilty to lesser gang charges in January. Their sentences are pending. Thaddeus Toste of Sacramento, the victim’s brother, said Matthew Toste “had a lot of really good friends” in Auburn, where he is buried. On Tuesday, Thaddeus Toste said the family was glad to see Lopez receive the maximum sentence. “We’re glad to see this part of it’s over,” Thaddeus Toste said. The Associated Press contributed to this report.