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A Phoenix man was sentenced to two terms of life in prison Wednesday for brutally beating two boys to death with a baseball bat in a random attack in 2008 two days before Christmas — a crime that shook their neighborhood and the entire Phoenix area.

Joe Sauceda Gallegos, 39, was sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court in downtown Phoenix after agreeing to plead guilty to two counts of first-degree murder to avoid getting the death penalty.

Maricopa County Bill Montgomery told The Associated Press that prosecutors were willing to give up seeking Gallegos' execution because of his mental-health issues, which would have further delayed the case and could have made him exempt from the death penalty anyway.

He said prosecutors discussed the plea agreement with the boys' family members at length, and they agreed that life in prison would be a just resolution given the circumstances.

"True justice would be bringing those boys back, and that's just not going to happen," Montgomery said.

Cousins Jesse Ramirez, 7, and Edwin Pellecier, 10, were playing at a west Phoenix park on Dec. 23, 2008, when Gallegos attacked them at random with a baseball bat and repeatedly bludgeoned them.

A neighbor found the boys with massive head injuries soon after, and Gallegos was arrested within hours of the attack. Police said his shoes and clothes were bloodied and he smelled of chlorine.

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