Closing out the final chapter in the murder case against four Eastside gang members — charged with beating Milpas Street shopkeeper George Ied to death in October 2010 — defendants Miguel Parra and Steven Santana were sentenced Monday to 16 years in state prison. Last week, Michael Cardenas was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison, and Miguel Parra’s older brother, Ismael, was sentenced to 15 years to life.
The ruling handed down by Judge Brian Hill this week came after Santana’s attorney, Joe Allen, argued his client should be sentenced to time served and probation because he cooperated with authorities and helped the District Attorney’s Office secure a second-degree murder conviction against Ismael Parra and Cardenas. By doing so, Allen said, Santana disavowed his entire former life and put himself at great risk for retaliation.
Santana, long associated with Santa Barbara street gangs, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for his testimony. He was sentenced to six years on that charge with an additional 10-year gang enhancement. The maximum possible sentence was 21 years.
Speaking directly to Hill, Santana said that if the judge released him on probation and granted him a second chance to be with his family, he would be a better role model to his brothers and a better son to his parents. He “learned a lot from the experience,” he went on, “ and could learn a lot more if he was released back to the streets.” Santana also promised to never return to gang life, explaining he couldn’t even if he wanted to.
Hill, remarking that Santana’s entreaty was “no doubt sincere and genuine,” and that he “no doubt desires to turn his life around,” said the crime was a serious one and deserving of prison time not probation. Hill said because there were four men beating on Ied, he was especially helpless and stood little chance of fighting back or escaping. “There are force in numbers,” Hill went on, noting how Santana contributed to the unprovoked and merciless attack.
After a few brief words from his attorney, Sam Eaton, Miguel Parra was given the same sentence by Hill: six years for voluntary manslaughter and 10 years for a gang enhancement. Miguel’s original trial ended in a hung jury and shortly after he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge.
Outside the courtroom, Allen estimated that with time served and credit for good behavior, Santana will likely spend 10-11 years behind bars before he’s released.