The mother of a Carpinteria boy badly injured in a November 2010 beating committed by two gang members called the attack a cruel and low action that left her son physically, emotionally, and mentally traumatized. “He’s no longer the young, joyful man he was before,” she told Judge Frank Ochoa Monday morning during the sentencing hearing of Luis Perez, an 18-year-old who authorities called the most culpable in the attack.
It was alleged Perez used a souvenir mini baseball bat to attack the victim in broad daylight as he walked home from school. The victim was knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital. The attackers were arrested the following day. A juvenile was also arrested, but juvenile proceedings are closed to the public.
Perez pleaded no contest to assault with the personal use of a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement and an enhancement of great bodily injury. As part of a plea deal, Perez, who spent more than a year in county jail, received probation.
Ochoa, who noticed Perez — dressed in a baggy sweatshirt and shorts — smiling during the mother’s emotional statement, told the young man he better listen to her words. “You may laugh at her, but you better not laugh at me,” he said. “You’re looking at 17 years if you violate probation, and don’t think that’s a false promise.”
Earlier, the mother told the judge she didn’t understand what could make people act with such “evilness.” “I was full of anger and pain,” the mother said. “I felt impotent and guilty that I was not there to protect my son.”
Last month, Eric Arroyo, also 18, pleaded no contest to assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, along with two additional special allegations. He was placed on three years of felony probation and scheduled to be deported when he got out of jail, where he had been since his arrest in this case.
Monday morning, Ochoa warned Perez, who no longer lives in Santa Barbara County, he should be careful not to violate probation because authorities will be keeping their eye on him. “They’ll be watching you,” he said. “And you know what — they’ll be waiting for you to mess up, so don’t do it.”
Prosecutor Kimberly Smith said there were a number of factors that led to the plea deal, including the age of the defendant and his lack of a criminal record. “It was a brutal, senseless act committed on an innocent victim, and should the defendant violate probation, he could be sentenced to 17 years in prison,” she said.
All three defendants received strikes (under California’s three strike law) on their record.