The Norteño gangmember convicted of fatally shooting a man mistaken for a gang rival and the accomplice who avoided a murder trial by taking a plea deal were each sentenced Tuesday to prison.
Shooter Michael Elijah Rodriguez, 21, received life in prison without parole because he was found guilty in November of first-degree murder and gang allegations in the death of Julio Pantoja Cuevas. Jaime Treto Rodriguez, 22, pleaded no contest in October to first-degree murder and the special gang enhancement in return for a flat 26-years-to-life term.
Both men must also pay $7,528.96 to the Victim’s Compensation and Government Claims Board.
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. Mario Cazarez Jr., 21, 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 received another consecutive 25 years to life for the use of a firearm.
In December, Cazarez pleaded no contest to felony mayhem to avoid a murder trial and, although there are no sentencing promises, because prosecutors plan to recommend 14 years in prison.
Another defendant, Gerardo Aboytes, 22, 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.
Cazarez remains in custody without bail.
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