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Murder case resolved with mayhem plea deal
December 10, 2013, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Mario Cazarez Jr.

The alleged Norteño gangmember accused of starting a shoving match that ended with the fatal shooting of a man mistaken for a rival because of his blue jacket avoided a murder trial by pleading no contest to felony mayhem.

Mario Cazarez Jr., 20, also admitted acting on behalf of a gang in return for no sentencing promises. However, prosecutors plan to recommend a 14-year term when Cazarez is sentenced Feb. 7.

Cazarez’s resolution is quite different than that of Michael Elijah Rodriguez, 21, who actually shot Julio Pantoja Cuevas several times and is looking at life in prison without parole after being convicted last month of first-degree murder. Co-defendant Jaime Rodriguez, 22, pleaded no contest in early October to first-degree murder and a special gang enhancement in return for a flat 26-year term when sentenced in January.

On Nov., 28, 2010, Cuevas was allegedly visiting three female friends at a Madison Avenue apartment complex in Redwood City wearing a navy blue jacket. Cazarez and both Rodriguezes, no relation, allegedly approached Cuevas and challenged him about what gang he claimed. After a shoving match led by Cazarez, Michael Rodriguez allegedly pulled a gun and shot him several times. Cuevas ran down an alley where he fell and died and the suspects fled in the opposite direction.

Cazarez and Michael Rodriguez were arrested the day after the shooting. Jaime Rodriguez remained at large until June 2011 when he was arrested in Santa Fe, N.M., for a domestic dispute in a casino.

On Nov. 25, a jury deliberated less than three hours before convicting Michael Rodriguez. On top of the life term, he also faces another 25 years to life for the use of a firearm. He will be sentenced Jan. 13.

All the men remain in custody without bail.

Another defendant, Gerardo Aboytes, 21, also accepted a plea deal and received 17 years in prison for mayhem, perjury and assault with a deadly weapon. Aboytes was not physically at the scene when Cuevas was shot but called his alleged accomplices to alert them to the presence of possible gang rivals, according to prosecutors. He was tied to the case after testifying before the grand jury and later indicted.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102



Tags: rodriguez, cazarez, cuevas, after, michael, murder,

Other stories from today:

S.F. police looking for alleged puppy thief
Redwood City home invaders imprisoned
San Mateo County police reports

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