Adult Trial to Be Asked in Drive-By Slayings : Saticoy: One of the four teen-agers must be tried as a juvenile. None of them could receive the death penalty.
Prosecutors said Thursday that they will seek to try three teen-agers as adults in last weekend’s fatal drive-by shooting in Saticoy.
Four youths have been arrested in the shooting, in which two men were killed and two others were injured. The boys are scheduled to be arraigned today on murder charges in Ventura County Superior Court. One is 17, two are 16, and one is 15. By law, the 15-year-old must be tried as a juvenile.
If convicted as adults, the three older suspects could be sentenced to as much as life in prison without possibility of parole, prosecutors said. If convicted as juveniles, they could not be kept in custody past age 25.
None of the suspects can receive the death penalty, as Sheriff John V. Gillespie urged on Wednesday. “The law absolutely prohibits it” for offenders under age 18, Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury said.
The youths--three from Ventura and one from Oxnard--were arrested Tuesday evening, two days after the burst of gunfire that killed Rolando Martinez, 20, and Javier Ramirez, 19, in the Cabrillo Village neighborhood.
Investigators said the 17-year-old suspect, an El Rio gang member, apparently fired at random in retaliation for an earlier scuffle between his gang and a Cabrillo Village gang. The victims were not gang members and apparently were not intended as targets, investigators said.
All four suspects are scheduled to be arraigned today before Superior Court Judge Robert Willard. They are each charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder with a special allegation that the offenses had multiple victims.
In addition, the 17-year-old suspected of firing the fatal shots with a .22-caliber rifle faces two additional special allegations: use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and causing great bodily injury.
The other three face a special allegation of being involved in a crime in which one of the principals is armed.
If convicted of any of the special allegations, the youths could get extra prison time.
Willard, who is filling in for Judge Robert C. Bradley on juvenile cases today, is expected to accept pleas from the youths and appoint lawyers for them, if necessary. They will continue to be held at Juvenile Hall without bail, Deputy Dist. Atty. Saundra T. Brewer said.
A hearing will be scheduled within 20 days on the prosecution’s request to try them as adults. Brewer said that when juveniles are charged with serious offenses such as murder, the law presumes that they are unfit for juvenile court and the burden is on the defense to prove that they should not be tried as adults.
In deciding where to try the youths, Brewer said, the judge must consider five factors:
* The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor.
* Whether the minor can be rehabilitated by age 25, when the juvenile court’s jurisdiction would expire.
* The minor’s previous delinquency history.
* The success of previous rehabilitation attempts.
* The circumstances and gravity of the offense.
The 17-year-old is already on juvenile probation for a misdemeanor assault last year, Brewer said. The 15-year-old boy has been accused of public intoxication and was scheduled in court next Tuesday for resolution of that case. No details of those cases were available. State law allows authorities to keep legal matters involving juveniles confidential.
The youths’ names have not been disclosed. And Brewer said the judge indicated that he would not allow them to be divulged at the hearing today, although it is open to the public. Under the law, the names of juveniles charged in serious crimes become public record when they are disclosed in court, if a judge permits disclosure or if the suspects are certified for trial as adults.