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Man sentenced to 15 years for killing homeless man in Avocado Heights

A 37-year-old man was sentenced April 14 to 15 years to life in state prison for fatally beating a homeless man in June 2014, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. 

On the day of his sentencing, Marco Antonio Villanueva pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the killing of Ruben Victor Zermeno, 56. Villanueva admitted to a special allegation that he used a bucket and hammer to commit the crime. 

Early on June 18, 2014, Villanueva became angry with Zermeno for taking his spot near a trash bin and struck Zermeno with a hammer, prosecutors said.

Hours later, workers in the 13900 block of Valley Boulevard in Avocado Heights, near La Puente, found Zermeno's body, said Det. Karen Shonka with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Zermeno was pronounced dead at 5:56 a.m., according to coroner's records. An autopsy showed that he suffered from blunt force trauma as a result of being stomped on and beaten.

A witness linked Villanueva, who is Latino, to the attack. Villanueva was arrested on suspicion of murder that day. Zermeno and Villanueva were transients in the area who had known each other for a couple of days, Shonka said.

“There was some type of argument that they got involved in," Shonka said, "and the suspect said God told him to do it."

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @jeromercampbell and @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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