Youngest murder defendant takes 43-year plea deal

Youngest murder defendant takes 43-year plea deal
Youngest murder defendant takes 43-year plea deal
March 12, 2011, 03:15 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

The county’s youngest murder defendant, known mostly from his escape from juvenile hall and jailhouse plot to intimidate witnesses, took a 43-year plea deal Friday rather than face life in prison without parole.

Josue Raul Orozco, 20, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for shooting Francisco Rodriguez, 21, in the back of the head on July 12, 2005 as he ran to safety outside his Redwood City home. Orozco also admitted several gang and witness tampering charges. In return, Orozco received a 43-year sentence of which he must serve 85 percent. He has credit for several years served already.

Prosecutor Josh Stauffer called the resolution good considering his age and that the first trial ended with a hung jury.

“We were able to secure a very large sentence on a very bad guy,” Stauffer said.

Stauffer and the defense had been discussing a possible plea deal since the end of Orozco’s first trial, which ended in a mistrial, but nothing was secure until Wednesday afternoon.

Orozco was just 14 when charged with murder, gun and gang allegations in Rodriguez’s death. The case gave Orozco the dubious distinction of being the youngest person ever charged as an adult with murder in San Mateo County. Two years later, he became the first ward to escape from the county’s recently opened juvenile hall.

Orozco was not charged with the escape attempt although jurors in the 2009 trial learned of it from Stauffer who argued fleeing showed consciousness of guilt. Jurors primarily were asked to decide if Orozco was a cold-blooded killer looking to earn respect of fellow gangmembers or a shy boy with a low IQ who the convicted getaway driver ordered to confess.

According to the Stauffer, Orozco shot Rodriguez as the man tried running for safety, slowed by a deformed leg. Orozco, who Stauffer contended was an active participant in a Sureño gang if not a full-fledged member, gathered into a car his troops carrying a gun, a bat and a shank and sought out Norteños as payback for an earlier slight. They circled Rodriguez twice, covered their faces with blue rags and Orozco struck, he said.

Defense attorney Ray Buenaventura did not return a call for comment on the negotiated settlement.

During Orozco’s first trial, he claimed convicted getaway driver Faustino Ayala was the shooter and a man named Chongo was the driver. Buenaventura claimed the prosecution tailored its evidence to convict Orozco rather than focusing on the truth of the case.

After the murder, Orozco, Ayala and three minors including Orozco’s brother were arrested. The minors were convicted of murder in juvenile court but Orozco, then 17, escaped juvenile hall in February 2008 before he and Ayala stood trial. Ayala was singularly convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 46 years to life in prison.

Orozco was apprehended in Texas while allegedly burglarizing houses and extradited back to California for trial.

In December 2009, jurors split almost evenly between guilt and innocence and a judge declared a mistrial. In January, prosecutors announced retrial plans. The next month, the District Attorney’s Office also announced Orozco was suspected of organizing five other alleged Sureño gang members outside of jail between May 2009 and March 2010 to threaten witnesses into changing testimony or not appearing. The plan was uncovered through jail house phone records during the last half of the first trial.

Three of the conspirators took plea deals and prosecutors dropped charges against another due to insufficient evidence. Another, Alexander Stephen Villar, 20, is scheduled for trial July 11 but has an offer on the table that expires April 29.

Orozco is in custody without bail. He will be formally sentenced April 29.

Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

If I Get Out Alive - Children Sentenced to Adult Prison - Press Play to Listen

Broken on all sides

Popular Posts