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Man convicted for killing, burying woman in 2012 sentenced: 25 to life

It took a Kern County jury less than 30 minutes to find Jose William Lara guilty in the death of Desiree Thompson. Lara buried Thompson's body in the backyard of a Cal City house he was renting.
jose lara
Posted at 4:32 PM, Jun 16, 2023

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Jose William Lara, convicted in May of the first-degree murder of Desiree Thompson, was in court for sentencing on Friday, June 16, 2023. Judge Michael G. Bush sentenced Lara to 25 years to life in prison for Thompson's disappearance and death in 2012.

In a case that had been considered cold until last year, 2 informants reported that Lara had confessed to killing Thompson. This information helped law enforcement obtain a warrant to search Lara's backyard where they found Thompson's body. A forensic investigation determined Lara killed her.

It took a jury less than half an hour to find Lara guilty.

Thompson's mother Sheri Smith says she feels grateful for the justice her family is seeing for her daughter.

"This is a blessing. This man will go away, he'll rot the rest of his life and not be able to hurt anybody else, and that's the whole point of getting this justice for her, as well as justice for other people, that this man can't go out there and hurt anybody else," said Smith. "This is a very evil man, and it's bittersweet because I don't have my daughter here. I can't hug my daughter anymore. I can't tell her I love her. She can't be with her children, which is very important to them."

Smith went on to say she and her family remember and honor Desiree every day, and Smith believes her daughter is with her now. Smith said she will not stop helping other people get through situations similar to what she's gone through.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Bush explained how he came to his decision.

"He was engaged in violent conduct which indicates a serious danger to society under B1. He's obviously not a candidate for probation, and with that, probation is denied," said Bush.

The judge also ruled that Lara has to pay restitution to Thompson's family, the amount of which will be determined at a later date.