A Moorpark youth who pleaded guilty Jan. 11 to the voluntary manslaughter of a resident known as "the Moorpark bum" was given a year in a juvenile detention facility Wednesday in a sentence hailed by his family and attorney.
In handing down the sentence, Ventura Superior Court Judge Lawrence Storch said 17-year-old William Cardiel's age and clean record convinced him not to send him to a state correctional facility.
"This is not a state prison case," Storch said. The judge also imposed six years probation and 1,500 hours of community service.
The youth has been in jail since he was charged with the July 13, 1989, death of 59-year-old Chester Lawson. His attorney said he should be released in about 60 days.
Some of the about 70 family members and supporters from Moorpark who attended the hearing hugged outside the courtroom after learning that Cardiel would soon be free.
Cardiel received widespread community support during the criminal hearings. Supporters of the popular Moorpark High School student raised nearly $5,000 to pay for his legal fees.
Cardiel's father, William Cardiel Sr., wept silently after the sentencing. He said he hoped his son would return to school.
As a condition of probation, Cardiel will have to undergo alcohol counseling, said Charles English, his attorney.
"Billy is not a young man who belongs in a youth authority," English said. "He's had no disciplinary problems. He has a good record."
In arguing for the addition of community service to the sentence, Deputy Dist. Atty. James D. Ellison said probation alone might send the wrong message that Cardiel was a hero for killing someone in defense of a friend.
The youth said Lawson attacked him and his friend Andy Amavisca with a pitchfork as they sat drinking beer in a vacant parking lot in Moorpark.
Cardiel contended he acted in self-defense when he repeatedly struck and killed Lawson with an 8-foot-long pole.