Three men are getting relatively lenient sentences in a case involving a home-invasion robbery, and a victim who was bound, gagged, taunted, and strangled before being dumped by the side of a road in the Oakland hills.

Some will consider this another controversial set of plea deals for Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, who calls the actions of the three accused "heinous crimes," but two of them will get off with off just six years in prison.

The plea deals stem from the prosecution of three men, Richardo Onteveros, Kevin Woodruff, and Bryan Wu. All three were facing kidnap and murder charges in the September 2021 death of a 37-year-old San Leandro man, Benjamin Hemmann. Hemmann was found bound with ratchet straps and duct tape, gagged with a rag, and strangled with a dog leash on the side of Redwood Road in the Oakland Hills near Castro Valley.

As Bay Area News Group reported last year as court proceedings were getting underway, evidence in the case came from multiple sources, including testimony from Woodruff's wife, Mashonna Yvonne Whittle. Whittle allegedly participated in some of the crimes as well, and she faces trial at a later date.

Onteveros, who also goes by the name Steven Hanna, confessed to police after his September 2021 arrest — after leading Solano County Sheriff’s deputies on a wild chase following a report of a residential burglary. Alameda County Sheriff’s detectives ended up connecting Onteveros's blue Toyota pickup truck — which had a Baby Yoda doll tied to its grill at one point — to the Hemmann murder, and determined it was the only vehicle to be seen on Redwood Road around the time of the killing. And upon Onteveros's address, they found ratchet straps, cell phones, and the Baby Yoda doll in the car.

The motives for the kidnapping and killing were never made entirely clear in court documents, though Onteveros's confessed to strangling Hemmann like "how you kill any fucking dog." And Whittle gave testimony suggesting that Wu had shouted at Hemmann, just before the killing, "You’re a dope fiend, no one loves you. No one is going to miss you."

Hemmann lived with his father in San Leandro, and other evidence that linked the group to the crimes included a notebook that was found in Woodruff's possession containing Hemmann's father's social security number, as well as a military jacket emblazoned with the name "Hemmann."

While Whittle later recanted her statements and blamed them on her "mental illness," she allegedly participated in the robbery of Hemmann's home and in identity theft, and will face prosecution for those crimes.

"Each defendant has entered guilty pleas and accepted responsibility for their actions in the kidnapping, murder of Benjamin Hemmann and the residential burglary and identity theft of James Hemmann," DA Pamela Price said in a statement. "These were heinous crimes. The pleas by the defendant ensure they will face the appropriate consequences and accountability for their conduct in these cases."

Price also extended condolences to Hemmann's family.

Onteveros pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces a 15-year-to-life sentence in state prison; Woodruff pleaded guilty to home invasion robbery in concert and possession of stolen property, and he faces a 6-year and 8-month sentence; and Wu pleaded guilty to first-degree residential burglary and faces 6 years.

There was, as Bay Area News Group reported in January, some complication with the prosecution regarding Whittle. She claimed "intimidation" by investigators, and when charges were filed against her, the other defendants' attorneys claimed this was retaliation for her not cooperating in the murder investigation.

In covering the case, the Chronicle ran with the headline "Pamela Price cuts plea deals in brutal kidnap, murder of man found gagged, strangled," noting that Price is facing a recall in part because of plea deals that seem to prioritize defendants over victims.