VENTURA : 2 Women Avoid Trial Under '3 Strikes' Law

Deciding the punishment would not fit the crime, prosecutors on Wednesday said that two Ventura County women accused of low-level felony drug offenses will not be prosecuted under the state's tough new "three strikes" law.

The women's defense attorney, Timothy Quinn, quickly commended prosecutors for using proper discretion in reaching the decisions. But Quinn also said district attorney officials never should have considered prosecuting the women under the three strikes law, which requires a prison sentence of 25 years to life upon conviction.

"I'm amazed that this is even considered in these cases," he said. "To me, it's clearly not appropriate to incarcerate someone for life for possessing a small amount of drugs."

Prosecutors can charge felony defendants--even those accused of nonviolent crimes--under the new law if the accused people have two prior serious or violent felonies.

Prosecutors said Monday that Angela Alfaro, 35, of Port Hueneme, and Patricia Martinez, 30, of Ventura, would not be charged under three strikes because they are not accused of committing violent felonies.

Alfaro is charged with possessing a quarter gram of cocaine after the drugs were found on a man riding in her car Aug. 3, Port Hueneme police said. In 1980, she was sent to prison for six years after being convicted of 13 felonies in connection with a brutal gang rape. She helped some men lure the victim to a small party for the attack, prosecutors said.

Like Alfaro, Martinez faces a charge of drug possession. She has prior convictions for burglary and robbery stemming from a house break-in about 10 years ago, a prosecutor said.

If convicted, each woman would face a maximum of six years in prison.

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