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Woman Faces Possibility of ‘Three Strikes’ Law : Courts: Angela Alfaro of Oxnard, convicted for her role in a 1980 gang rape, could become first female in county charged under statute.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An Oxnard woman convicted of taking part in a brutal gang rape 14 years ago may now become the first female in Ventura County to be charged under the state’s “three strikes” law.

Angela Alfaro, 35, became a potential candidate for the tough sentencing statute after being charged with possessing a quarter gram of cocaine when she was stopped for speeding Aug. 3 in Port Hueneme.

On Monday, Ventura County Municipal Judge Herbert Curtis III ordered Alfaro, also known as Angela Bernard, to stand trial on the drug charge after Port Hueneme Police Officer Christina Alvarez testified that she found the cocaine in the pants pocket of Alfaro’s 18-year-old nephew. Alvarez said she searched the suspects after she could find no driving record under Alfaro’s name.

Alvarez said Alfaro told her on the way to the Port Hueneme Police Station that the cocaine belonged to her.

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“She told me she handed it to him prior to making the stop,” Alvarez testified.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian Rafaelson said prosecutors will decide whether to pursue a three-strikes case against Alfaro by Sept. 13, when she is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court.

A major factor in the decision, he said, will be Alfaro’s 13 felony convictions in connection with the 1980 gang rape of a woman in Oxnard.

“We’ll consider the seriousness of the prior acts and make a decision,” Rafaelson said. “I think she’s probably going to be charged.”

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Alfaro served six years of a 10-year, eight-month prison sentence for the rape. That case marked the first time a woman in Ventura County was successfully prosecuted for a rape.

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.

Defense attorney Tim Quinn said outside of court Monday that Alfaro should not be charged with the three-strikes law because she does not fit the profile of a habitual criminal for whom the law was intended.

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“She hasn’t been in any significant trouble in 14 years,” he said. “Three strikes has been publicized as a way to get repeat violent offenders off the streets for life. She doesn’t fall into that category.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Janes would not discuss Alfaro’s pending drug charge. But he said she deserved a stiffer sentence than she received in the gang rape.

“It was absolutely unconscionable what happened to the victim in that case,” said Janes, who prosecuted Alfaro and four male defendants. “Just looking at the evidence back then, she’s not somebody that ought to be in society.”

During that trial, prosecutors successfully argued that Alfaro helped plan the assault and invited the victim to a small party where she was tied up and attacked repeatedly by the men, Janes said.

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Janes said the four men prosecuted in the rape were all members of a local biker gang and the victim was an acquaintance of Alfaro’s.

Alfaro is being held in Ventura County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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Her bail initially was set at $5,000, but was raised after she fled the Ventura County Courthouse Aug. 12 upon learning that she was a potential candidate for the three-strikes law and could face life in prison. She was later rearrested by sheriff’s deputies.

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“She left because she became aware she might get life,” Quinn said. “Apparently, she didn’t have as much faith in the jury system as others.”


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