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Teen Found Guilty in Deadly Crime Spree

June 11, 1996|PAUL ELIAS

As his mother wept in the gallery, a Ventura County jury Monday found a 17-year-old Camarillo boy guilty of robbery for his part in a violent crime spree last year that culminated with the random shooting death of a Moorpark motorist.

Jose Duarte, being prosecuted as an adult, now faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Prosecutor Matthew J. Hardy III said he will argue for the harshest of possible punishments when the teen is sentenced, which is scheduled for next month.

Hardy had initially asked that Duarte be charged under California's "three strikes" law, which mandates that thrice-convicted felons be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. But Superior Court Judge Steven Z. Perren ruled earlier that prosecutors could not use Duarte's juvenile record as "strikes." Hardy has appealed Perren's ruling.

Duarte was charged with robbery and false imprisonment for his alleged role in a 30-minute crime spree. The Dec. 3 mayhem started with an attempted robbery of a Camarillo Taco Bell and culminated with the random shooting death of a 25-year-old Moorpark motorist.

Michael Castro, 20, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year and is serving a prison sentence of 30 years to life for the slaying of Jesus Zamudio Manjarrez.

The alleged driver of the car, Arturo Contreras, 18, is also charged with murder and faces trial next month.

A 17-year-old boy was convicted in juvenile court of being an accessory to the murder and was sentenced to 150 days in Juvenile Hall, Hardy said.

Duarte's attorney, William Maxwell, declined to comment.

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