Months after two juries returned guilty verdicts against Juan Carlos Herrera-Romero, 31, and Gabino Andres Romero, 28, the cousins were sentenced to life in prison Thursday for raping a then-62-year-old homeless woman at knifepoint at East Beach on July 16, 2014.
Back in September, one jury convicted Herrera-Romero of four felony counts — among them conspiracy to rape, rape in collusion, and forcible rape in collusion — and found that he threatened the victim and her 70-year-old male companion with a knife during the attack. Another jury convicted Romero of the same felonies, including criminal threats at knifepoint against the victim’s partner and against the victim during the sexual assault.
Judge Rick S. Brown, who delivered the sentence, cited that wielding a knife during the woman’s rape made both defendants eligible for life in prison under California’s One Strike Law, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Herrera-Romero was sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison and Romero was sentenced to 36 years to life in state prison.
Without the efforts of Santa Barbara Police Department detectives and Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Barron, District Attorney Joyce Dudley said, “these perpetrators would have gotten away with a vicious sexual and physical assault. Instead, this sentence will ensure that these dangerous men will never again prey upon anyone.”