Friday, October 31, 2008

Sentencing date set for Juarez


A 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy who was convicted by a Santa Barbara County jury of voluntary manslaughter in a 2007 gang killing will be sentenced on Jan. 8, 2009. The boy faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, the prosecutor in the case, said out of consideration for the victim’s family, he would have preferred sentencing occur before the holidays.

“They want to know what’s going to happen to the person who killed their son,” Dozer said. “The longer this case languishes in court the longer they have to deal with these issues.”
Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez, 15, was tried as an adult for the March 14, 2007 murder of 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares.
Linares was stabbed eight times during the mid-day brawl that broke out in the intersection of State and Carrillo streets. The boy was found dead in a planter behind the Saks Fifth Avenue shopping center.
Juarez was the lone person charged with murder Linares, but jurors said after the more than two-month trial that they couldn’t unanimously agree the boy was guilty of that crime.
Both the prosecution and defense called the jury’s decision a “compromise verdict.”
In court yesterday more than a dozen of Juarez’s friends and family wore white shirts that said, “Teens do not deserve adult punishment,” on the front around a picture of Juarez, and the phrase, “So teens are treated like adults in the system but not in the community? That’s not fair,” on the back.
Juarez’s legal counsel, Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins, said she requested extra time for sentencing in order to file a motion with the court seeking a new trial.
Atkins said she doubts such a request will be granted, though she believes the motion is important to explicitly state on the record some issues that arose during the trial that the defense objected to.
After Juarez was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter on Oct. 15, Atkins said she planned to file a “fitness” hearing, or a request to allow the boy to be tried in juvenile court.
She said such a request is often considered when the defendant is found guilty of a lesser crime than originally charged. But now, Atkins said she doesn’t plan to request the hearing, saying she could find no legal basis for it.
Along with voluntary manslaughter, the jury also found Juarez guilty of committing the crime to benefit a criminal street gang, which carries a mandatory 10-year sentence, and personally using a knife on the victim, an offense that carries an additional year. The maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter is 11 years.
At the Jan. 8 sentencing hearing Dozer said the victim’s family will testify and a sentencing report prepared by the county Probation Department will also be presented.
Dozer anticipates the defense will also call witnesses, saying he wouldn’t be surprised if Atkins has a child psychologist, who wasn’t allowed to testify during the trial, take the stand during sentencing.
During the trial, Atkins said such a psychologist would have testified about juvenile brain development.

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