George Onyango was a loving father who gave hugs to his sons each day before he left for work.
An English teacher in his native Kenya before bringing his family to the U.S. in 2006, Onyango urged his sons to study hard to prepare for success in the world.
Onyango taught by example, attending Whittier Law School during the day and working nights as a group home counselor in Yucaipa.
In his free time, Onyango loved to take his family to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and other sights.
Onyango also took his group-home charges on field trips, trusting them and believing they shared a mutual respect, his cousin said.
That’s why he never suspected two of the youths were plotting the horrible crime that ended his life on a summer night two years ago, leaving his sons orphaned.
The teen killers were tried as adults and were convicted recently on all charges.
Carlos Dubose, 17 at the time of the crime, was convicted of murder, carjacking, robbery, kidnapping, evading arrest and using a steam iron and dowel to beat Onyango to death, as well as special circumstances including torture.
Now 19, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole at sentencing Nov. 4.
Davion Whitmore 15 years, 8 months old at the time of the crime was convicted of murder, carjacking, robbery and kidnapping to commit robbery, said Deputy DA Beth Houser.
Because he was under 16 at the time, Whitmore, now 18, faces 25 years to life.
Houser hopes the convictions bring Onyango’s sons a sense of justice knowing their father’s assailants will never get out of prison to harm someone else.
The boys’ relatives, Rose and Godfred Masinde, took them in to raise them with their daughters.
It wasn’t an easy transition for the traumatized boys, who lost their mother to a brain tumor a few months after moving to this country and now had lost their father.
Masinde said he had to reassure the boys they were full members of his family.
I sat down with them on Thursday evening to ask how they are doing.
Abraham Onyango, 16, and David Onyango, 13, said their studies suffered at first, although teachers and friends were sympathetic.
David misses the walks his father used to take with him. Abraham misses the family road trips to Arizona.
Today both boys are doing well in school. Abraham is a senior at Yucaipa High School. He plans to study pre-med or engineering at college next year.
David would like to be a dentist or study law.
Especially difficult for Abraham was having to testify at the trial. He had to identify his father from bloody crime-scene photos.
“It was disturbing,” he said quietly, adding that he had nightmares afterward.
The killers sat expressionless in court, he said, “like they didn’t care.”
Masinde wants the boys to write victim statements to be read at the sentencing. Both boys are reluctant, saying it is painful to relive the crime.
Abraham said he never wants to see the killers’ faces again. I hope no one outside prison ever sees them again.