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Suspected California gang member sentenced in girlfriend's death

A reported gang member who was an honors junior varsity track runner in high school has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges in the July 2012 death of his 19-year-old girlfriend. Prosecutors believe the 21-year-old man may have beaten his girlfriend out of anger over her relationship with a member of a rival gang. The man reportedly admitted the beating to an acquaintance. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

In July 2012, police found the man attempting to render aid to his seriously injured girlfriend at his Spring Valley home, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. The man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. His girlfriend was transported to an area hospital in critical conditions where she died two days later after being taken off of life support. The medical examiner reported the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

A witness at a preliminary hearing testified that the man admitted to beating his girlfriend. The 21-year-old had a previous conviction for burglary. He also earned junior varsity honors running track at Mt. Helix Charter High School in 2008.

In California, the criminal offense of manslaughter is a serious charge with stiff sentences if convicted. Manslaughter is also a "strike" offense which requires mandatory increases in sentencing for future felony offenses. A "strike" for conviction on a third felony offense could draw a sentence of up to life in prison.

A person charged with the violent crime of voluntary manslaughter will want to vigorously defend against the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to conduct a thorough investigation of the appropriateness of the charges and mount a fact-based defense for the best outcome available under the law.

Source: CBS8, "Sentencing for reported gang member in girlfriend's death", October 21, 2013

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