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SIMI VALLEY : Guilty Plea Avoids the ‘3 Strikes’ Law

For Henry Diaz of Simi Valley, the “three strikes and you’re out” law was a reason not to go to trial.

A 40-year-old three-time convicted robber, Diaz pleaded guilty in Ventura County Superior Court on Tuesday to four felony counts of child molestation. The parolee had faced 70 years in state prison after being charged with nine counts of child molestation for repeatedly having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Under the plea, which came as a jury was being selected for Diaz’s trial, the defendant now will receive a sentence of about 40 years to life, his attorney said Wednesday.

“The incentive to plead guilty was to get some sentence where you at least might have a possibility of seeing the outside of prison walls someday,” Deputy Public Defender Neil B. Quinn said.

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The three strikes law, which took effect March 8, requires a sentence of 25 years to life for anyone with at least two prior serious or violent felonies who commits another felony. One of the charges to which Diaz pleaded guilty relates to an offense that occurred after March 8.

He is expected to receive the 25-year sentence for it and another 12 years in prison for his three other convictions. Had he gone to trial and been convicted, he would have received two 25-year sentences and 20 more years for the other charges.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 22.


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