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Woman guilty of murder for her role in death of taxi driver
Margarita Maggie Leanos accused of being getaway driver
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Justin Lindsey, a minister at St. John Baptist Church, speaks a few words on behalf of Margarita Leanos’ character Tuesday before sentencing is read in Leanos’ trial for the murder of Isaias Tovar-Murillo, a taxi driver for Taxi El Palmar. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Nearly seven months after five co-defendants left Isaias Tovar-Murillo, 46, to die, Shiv Sachdeva called for mercy.

“Even though this defendant didn’t show Isaias any mercy ...  the state is going to show this defendant some mercy,” the assistant district attorney said Tuesday at the sentencing for Margarita Leanos, 28, of Gainesville.

Leanos was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole in the March 15 attempted armed robbery and shooting of Tovar-Murillo, a Taxi El Palmar driver. The prosecution charged Leanos with felony murder for driving the getaway car and assisting triggerwoman Misty Moran, 39, of Gainesville.

Moran was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole Thursday.

Tovar-Murillo was found March 15 with a gunshot wound to the back of his head in the wooded area around Barrett and Dorsey Peek roads.

The jury entered deliberations around noon Tuesday and returned with a verdict after 2:30 p.m.

Ignacio Mondragon, 21, Nicholas Allen Gonzalez, 24, and Justin John Adams, 22, took a plea deal in August that allowed them to avoid prosecution for felony murder.

Leanos was found guilty on charges of attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and violation of the Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Prevention Act.

Leanos’ mother, Joanne Mckee, took to the stand to defend her daughter before Superior Court Judge Jason Deal.

The mother harkened back to Sachdeva’s comments during opening statements about Tovar-Murillo “earning” his money through hard work while the five co-defendants “gained” money.

“My daughter got up every day,” Mckee said, trailing off while grabbing for a tissue. “She took her little boy to the babysitter. She took the other to school, and then she went to work.”

Justin Lindsey, a minister at St. John Baptist Church, recalled his days working with Leanos at Mar-Jac Poultry.

“She is a real hard-working woman,” he said. “She loves her children, and I know that she has a heart and desire to be in a place to be the best mother for her kids.”

Deal reminded her of his admonition months before the trial started that the minimum sentence for felony murder is life in prison.

“(Tovar-Murillo) was an asset to our community,” he said. “You and your co-defendants removed that man from our community, took away everything he ever had and everything he was going to have.”

Leanos received a life prison sentence with the chance of parole for felony murder. She received another 30 years consecutive to the life sentence for the gang counts with five of those to be served in prison.

A person must serve 30 years on a life sentence before being considered for parole.

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