SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A local boy's world was turned upside down when his father was sentenced to life in prison. Today, the two appeared in a gang-prevention documentary in Santa Maria.
Santino Aguilera is like many 9 year olds, full of silly energy. He lives with his mom and siblings, but unlike many other 9 year olds, he can't see his dad every day.
"It's a struggle trying to see my dad," said Aguilera. "It makes me feel sad knowing your dad's going to be in prison when other kids have their dads and you don't."
His father, Jeremy Wallin, began serving a 98-year to life prison sentence in 2005 when Santino was just a little one. Wallin was a Santa Maria gang member, arrested for murder, kidnapping, and robbery. Santino only sees him once every 3 months.
It was sometime before May of last year that Santino's mother, Corina Yee, was approached by Santa Maria Police to help them with a gang prevention documentary they wanted to shoot.
"It was basically just shooting ideas off, and that's where he said 'well, what do you think about Santino?' And I said, 'oh I don't know'," said Yee.
Yee was unsure if she wanted to work with the agency that had originally arrested Wallin. She said the decision to collaborate with Santa Maria Police was a difficult one, but she says she knew the project was going to bring something positive out of a tough situation.
"Seeing it from a child's point of view is really a big deal," said Yee. "When kids think about what their children have to go through, I think it hits them a little bit harder."
Through experiencing the pain of having a father behind bars, Santino says he doesn't want that life.
"When I grow up I'm going to be a cop because you're helping the law and not doing other bad stuff," said Santino.
View the documentary on YouTube by clicking on the link: http://youtu.be/wal5QFvTSWw