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3 Sentenced in Hate Crime; Critics Call Terms Too Light

July 24, 2002|TONY PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — To the dismay of immigrant-rights activists, three teenagers from an affluent neighborhood were given only moderate sentences Tuesday for a hate-crime attack on five elderly Mexican laborers two years ago.

One was given eight months in a local youth camp, one was sentenced to the California Youth Authority for up to seven years, and a third was sent to state prison for a 90-day evaluation.

"We are very disappointed," said Christian Ramirez, director of the U.S.-Mexico program of the local American Friends Service Committee. "We feel the crimes they committed were ... against our entire community."

Convicted of eight felonies, the teenagers could have been sentenced to a maximum of 12 to 15 years in state prison.

The three were among eight teens who beat, robbed and shot a group of migrants in their 60s and 70s during a surprise attack on a makeshift camp east of Del Mar on July 5, 2000. All have admitted their involvement in the attack.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Hector Jimenez, head of the office's hate-crime unit, said he was particularly disappointed that Judge James Milliken did not give a tougher sentence to Michael Anthony Rose, 17.

Still, Jimenez noted, all eight of the teens, from the upscale Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood, now have two "strikes," and a third felony conviction anytime in their lives could mean a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Milliken sentenced Rose to the California Youth Authority, which can detain him until he is 25. Steven James Deboer, 18, was sent to state prison for a 90-day evaluation, after which Milliken will decide if he deserves more time behind bars. Nicholas Paul Fileccia, 18, was sent to a local youth camp for eight months. Four other teens received a similar range of sentences last month. The eighth teen faces sentencing later this month.

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