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“Why did you kill me?” It’s the question Belinda Lane asks William Sotelo, the man driving the getaway car the night her daughter, Crystal Theobald was shot and killed in 2006.
This question also becomes the title of the true crime documentary on Lane's story, an uncommonly empathetic film about a senseless murder and the lives left ruined, on both sides, in its wake.
In broad strokes “Why Did You Kill Me?” — premiering Wednesday on Netflix — is the story of a mom who took the law into her own hands to bring her daughter’s killers to justice: After Theobald, 24, is shot while sitting in a car outside her Riverside, California home, Lane enlists the help of her teenage niece to create fake Myspace profiles. Together, they successfully catfish members of the 5150 gang, who law enforcement believes is responsible for the murder. The hours Lane spends chatting online with Sotelo provide law enforcement with vital clues, but when Lane loses her patience with the social media ruse and outs herself with the titular question, Sotelo, aware that police know he was involved in Theobald’s death, disappears.
In large part due to Lane’s amateur sleuthing, law enforcement arrests 5150 member Julio “Lil Huero” Heredia, the triggerman, who was just 17 the night he killed Theobald in a case of mistaken identity. Heredia was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2011.
But the doc ends on something of a cliffhanger. After Lane is tipped off by a person on Facebook that Sotelo is living in Mexico with his wife and four children, he’s apprehended and extradited to the United States in 2016. Lane vows she will see him prosecuted for his role in the killing.
So what happened to Sotelo after the documentary cameras stopped rolling?
Facing a charge of first-degree murder for driving the vehicle used in Theobald’s murder, Sotelo, now 32, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, as well as other gang- and firearm-related counts, in January 2020, reports The Press-Enterprise.
Later that month, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison. The Mercury News reports Lane “used her victim impact statement to call him a “coward,” a “monster,” a “punk,” and “despicable” She told Sotelo she hoped other gang members “snuff your life out” while in prison.” She was eventually admonished by the judge when she began to insult Sotelo’s family.
Outside the courthouse she held a photo of Theobald and told reporters, “I’m still processing. He wasn’t even sorry.”
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