Long Beach man sentenced for killing his AA sponsor
By Tracy Manzer, Staff Writer
LONG BEACH - A 29-year-old Long Beach man was
sentenced to more than 50 years to life in
prison Thursday for the 2006 shooting death
of his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.
Scott Gordon Reynolds said nothing as the
sentence was handed down and did not look back
at his family or the two dozen family and
friends of his victim, 33-year-old Uriel
Noriega, who packed one side of a Long Beach
"He was always interested in helping people
from day one," Ulysses Noriega told the court
in an emotional victim impact statement.
"He found his calling (with AA), he felt
fulfilled," the brother said.
Reynolds claimed he planned to kill himself
Sept. 2, 2006, in view of his fellow AA members
in front of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 525
Instead, he turned the gun on his sponsor once
he saw Noriega's face, emptying the weapon and
shooting the victim repeatedly.
"People refer to this as a murder, but in my
opinion it was an assassination," said Eddie
Milton, the victim's uncle.
Reynolds told the jury that he snapped after
the victim told other members in AA the
defendant was gay, a secret he claimed he
had told only to his mother and to Noriega.
"None of that was substantiated in court,"
Deputy District Attorney Patrick O'Crowley
O'Crowley said the victim's sponsor testified
that Noriega had come to him for help in
dealing with Reynolds, but that the information
never went any further than the two men.
Under the rules of the program, information
shared between a sponsor and their sponsee is
confidential. New sponsors, such as Noriega,
who are in training can also go to their
sponsors for help if needed, O'Crowley said.
The defense also claimed Reynolds was mentally
ill, saying he was diagnosed with bipolar
disorder just prior to the slaying.
Neither defense argument worked and Reynolds
was convicted on all counts, including first-
degree murder and the personal use of a
firearm, resulting in a 50 years to life
A charge of criminal threats added 8 months to
his sentence, which his attorney - Natasha
Khamashta - asked be served concurrently.
Long Beach Superior Court Judge Jesse Rodriguez
denied the request, tacking the extra time onto
the life sentence to be served consecutively.
He told the defendant that he had destroyed
the lives of two families, that of the
victim's and his own, and that he had
sympathy for both families, but primarily
for the victim's family.
"You will always have Mr. Reynolds to talk to,
to look at, to help him as much as you can,"
the judge said to Reynold's family.
"Mr. Noriega's family, you have a void that
you will never be able to fill... The most
empty feeling is the loss of a child."
Rodriguez did grant the defense's request to
strike one point from the record made by a
probation officer in a report filed at the
time of Reynold's arrest.
In the report, the officer stated that the
slaying was a crime of extreme violence, that
the defendant used a gun in the killing and
that he took advantage of a position of trust
with the victim in order to commit the murder.
Khamashta argued the information should be
removed from the record so that it would not
be there in 50 years when her client becomes
eligible for parole.
"Everything (the probation officer) wrote in
here is true. This was a crime of great
violence, he shot him ... I lost count of how
many times," the judge responded.
But Rodriguez agreed to remove just one point,
that the murderer used a position of trust to
carry out the crime, then ordered the defendant
to pay close to $4,000 in restitution for the
cost of the victim's funeral.
The judge's decision came after the victim's
brother delivered an extremely emotional
victim impact statement to the court.
Speaking on behalf of his family, Ulysses
Noriega lashed out at Reynolds and his
attorney, saying their accusations that his
brother was a gossip were untrue and ran
counter to the life that the victim had led.
Noriega worked as a lifeguard until a back
injury ended his career, an injury that
required two surgeries and permanently reduced
Noriega's mobility, Ulysses Noriega told the
But his desire to help people was just as
strong and his role in AA helped him to
further his dreams of working with people
in need, the brother said.
"He helped hundreds of people through (their)
darkest moments," Ulysses Noriega said.
Ulysses Noriega also begged Reynolds and his
family to accept the sentence and to stop
their costly court battles and cease with
the claims that the victim was somehow
responsible for his death and that Reynolds
was mentally ill and therefore should not be
"He's a murderer who belongs in prison with
other murderers," the brother said, stopping
occasionally as his emotions swelled.
"Please do not try to appeal this. Have some
respect and let us live in peace."