Two teenage gang members are scheduled to be sentenced Friday morning for stabbing a man in broad daylight in downtown Santa Barbara last year.
Javier Hernandez III of Oxnard and Juan Jose Vasquez of Goleta — both 18 years old at the time of the stabbing and both members of Goleta’s G13 gang — are each expected to be sentenced to eight years in state prison, said prosecutor Hans Almgren. They pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement, and have been in jail since the incident on February 3, 2013.
According to police, Hernandez and Vasquez were part of a group that confronted the 31-year-old victim and his companion in Paseo Nuevo Mall at around 1 p.m. Witnesses reported seeing the suspects flashing gang signs before they followed the victim — allegedly a former gang member — and his companion onto West Carrillo Street where a fight ensued.
Multiple 9-1-1 calls were placed, and one witness reported a gang name being shouted during the altercation, during which the victim was stabbed once in the back. Soon after, police arrested Hernandez and Vasquez at the intersection of State and Carrillo streets, and the victim and his friend were located in the 900 block of Anacapa Street. The victim suffered no lasting injuries from the attack, said Almgren.
Neither Hernandez nor Vasquez had a prior criminal record, Almgren explained. Authorities were not certain what motivated the attack, he went on, but it was clear the pair were acting in furtherance of the interests of a criminal street gang.
[UPDATE]: The sentencing hearing for Hernandez and Vasquez has been postponed until November 21.