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California gang member sentenced in triple murder

A gang member was convicted on several charges including three racketeering murders and has been sentenced in federal court, in San Francisco, to five life sentences. In July, he pleaded guilty to 25 counts, which included firearms violations, robbery, attempted murder, murder conspiracy, racketeering conspiracy and the three murders.

The gang member believed that the three men he killed in South San Francisco in 2010 were members of a rival gang. The guilty plea was part of an agreement that enabled him to avoid the possibility of a federal death penalty. As part of the defendant's plea bargain, he admitted that on the evening of the murders, Dec. 22, 2010, he and some other gang members were looking for rival gang members, whom they thought were threatening their territory. The group saw seven men that they thought to be rival gang members. They opened fire on the seven, which wounded three and killed three others.

According to prosecutors, the man was a member of a South San Francisco street gang. The group he belonged to had originally been two different gangs, but in the mid-2000s, it began to function as one single gang.

As illustrated in this story, some defendants choose a plea bargain rather than risk being convicted and receiving the maximum sentence in court. A plea agreement may include reduced charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea or valuable information. The defendant is the one who makes the final decision on whether to accept a plea deal. If the defendant decides against a plea bargain, then the case will move to trial. In court, a defense attorney might be able to present an argument on behalf of a defendant.

Source: KTVU, "Norteno gang member gets 5 life sentences for triple murder", November 08, 2013

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