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[whitespace] Two men charged in Perez murder plead 'no contest'

Willow Glen--She won't get her sons back, but Adela Perez will soon be at least partially vindicated.

In an unexpected turn last Monday, Jan. 11, two of the men charged with murdering Perez's 14-year-old son Oscar changed their pleas. They pled "no contest" to the charge of voluntary manslaughter. In all likelihood, says district attorney Scott Tsui, Gregorio Perez Martinez, 19, and Saul Hernandez Martinez, 21, will be sentenced to 13 years in prison. Still suffering deeply from the loss of her sons, Perez says that the length of the sentence is not enough.

"I'm not happy with that because I wanted life for them," Perez said, choking back tears. "Eventually they'll be out and doing whatever it is they need to do, but I'm going to go the rest of my life not being able to touch my sons."

Nonetheless, after district attorney Scott Tsui explained the risks associated with moving into a trial, Perez agreed to accept the plea settlement.

"I don't think it's fair, but I was told by Scott [Tsui] that if we tried to take it to trial, they could get nothing or just a few years," Perez said.

Adela Perez's losses have been extreme. On June 13, five Hispanic youths, including the Martinezes, who are unrelated, chased down her 14-year-old son Oscar and kicked and stabbed him to death in what was believed to be a gang-related incident.

Lucilla Partida, a friend of the attackers, sat in the car during the horrendous incident. In the preliminary trial, she testified that Gregorio Martinez and Saul Martinez, along with two juvenile girls, "kicked and punched [Perez] all over," while another man, Martin Martinez, stabbed him. Martin Martinez, who is Saul Martinez's brother, is still at large.

One month after Oscar Perez was murdered, his younger brother Perez hung himself, largely out of grief over his brother.

"They didn't just take one son, they took two," Adela Perez says. "I really wanted them to pay for what they did for the rest of their lives."

Voluntary manslaughter carries a significantly shorter sentence than murder.

"Murder requires the malice of forethought, voluntary manslaughter doesn't," Tsui says. "Murder carries a 15-year minimum sentence, but voluntary manslaughter carries an 11-year maximum. They will probably get 11 years, and 2 years for committing this offense in a gang-related fashion."

Criminals are often allowed to begin parole after serving half of their sentence, Tsui says, adding that the seriousness of this crime will mandate Martinez and Martinez to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, or 11 years and two months.

"I think it was an appropriate and just resolution in light of the information," said defense attorney Bernard Bray. "I think everyone's always going to have mixed emotions about a case like this, but I do feel it was a just conclusion to this tragedy for all the parties and the community."

Martinez and Martinez will be sentenced on March 1 at 9:30 a.m. As part of the plea agreement, attorneys for both sides agreed that the defendants should serve 13 years. At the sentencing, Adela Perez will have the opportunity to address the men before they are transported to prison.

"Right now I'm not thinking of too many words that are polite," Perez says. "But I want to let them know how I feel, I want to let them know that they're doing 13 years, and they took my son's life, and it's not fair. I can't kiss my sons, I can't say goodnight to them. I can't do that."
Cecily Barnes

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