No Contest Plea in Juvenile Hall Assault

Two Others Face Adult Charges

A 17-year-old who participated in an alleged February 2009 gang-related assault in Santa Maria Juvenile Hall pleaded no contest and was sentenced to the 332 days he had already served, as well as probation.

Ivan Romero, who had been in Juvenile Hall facing unknown juvenile charges (juvenile court proceedings are confidential) at the time, was involved in the alleged assault with two others on 15-year-old Daniel Cervantes. As part of a plea deal, Romero pleaded no contest to adult charges of assault with force likely to produce bodily injury, and to being an active participant in a criminal street gang. In addition to the time served, he was sentenced to three year’s probation. He also has to register as a gang member. “I made him an offer, and he accepted,” prosecutor Hans Almgren said.

The other two defendants in the case, Ricardo Juarez and Ruben Mize, have pleaded not guilty to adult charges and will next be in court November 23 for a hearing. Juarez is currently serving a 17-year sentence at the state’s Juvenile Justice Center after being found guilty of voluntary manslaughter late last year for the stabbing death of 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares at Carrillo and State Streets in 2006, when Juarez was 14. If a jury finds him guilty of the latest assault, Juarez could receive his second strike under California’s three strikes rule. Almgren has made an offer to Juarez as well, though he wouldn’t say what the offer was.

Mize, meanwhile, is alleged to be the killer of 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure, who was attacked by a group of people and stabbed to death in July 2006. That case is likely headed to trial early next year, with Juarez and Mize’s assault case probably not going to trial until after that.

The victim in the alleged Juvenile Hall assault, Cervantes, suffered a head hematoma from the assault. He, along with two others, is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the stabbing death of 15-year-old Emmanuel Roldan on July 4, 2008.

I’m concerned,” Judge Frank Ochoa told Romero at his sentencing last week. “You have a pretty bad record for a young guy.”

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