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Ventura County

Teen Gets 79 to Life in Slaying

Courts: Isaac Lara of Oxnard was convicted of fatally shooting a woman after a party.

July 11, 2002|JESSICA BLANCHARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 19-year-old Oxnard man was sentenced to 79 years to life Wednesday for fatally shooting a woman after a party in Santa Paula two years ago.

Isaac Lara scowled as Ventura County Superior Court Judge Herbert Curtis III read his sentence.

Lara was convicted May 22 of fatally shooting Joanna Orozco, 21, in the back after a party in Santa Paula on Nov. 7, 2000.

He was also found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of Orozco's friend, Shane Longoria, 22. The shootings occurred after Orozco and Longoria argued with Lara at the party.

Orozco's mother, Ruth Garcia, addressed Lara during the sentencing.

"This has destroyed our family," she said. "I know I'll never be the same again. I want him to realize how much his daughter means to him, because my daughter meant that much to me."

Deputy Dist. Atty. John West said the vicious nature of the crime merited the maximum sentence.

But Deputy Public Defender William Markov argued that Lara did not warrant such a harsh penalty because of his age and lack of serious criminal history.

In sentencing Lara, Curtis called the shootings "one of the most vicious, cold, cruel and callous" crimes he has seen during his time on the bench.

Curtis ordered Lara to complete a drug counseling or treatment program or pay a $10,000 fine to the state. Lara was also ordered to pay $11,056.80 in restitution to Garcia.

Lara will receive credit for the nearly two years he has already served in jail.

West said later that he was satisfied with the verdict and the sentence.

"The judge pretty much wrapped up my feelings about it," he said. "This was a particularly vicious crime."

Lara, who admitted he was under the influence of drugs when the shootings occurred, maintained throughout his trial that two unidentified men were responsible for the slaying.

"He's remorseful for the family's loss, and let everyone know that," Markov said after the trial. "But he can't apologize for something he didn't do."

Lara plans to appeal, Markov said.

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