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  • Adult Time for Adult Crimes: Gang Member Andres Contreras

    On November 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences. In preparation for oral arguments, JLWOP: Faces & Cases will be an on-going series on The Foundry that will tell real stories about juvenile offenders who are currently serving LWOP sentences.

    Defendant: Andres Contreras, aged 16.
    Victims: Anthony Castro, Alejandro Salazar and Pedro Flores.
    Crimes: Murder and eight other crimes.
    Crime date: March 27, 2005 in Tulare County, Calif.

    Summary

    During a two-day crime spree in 2005, Andres Contreras, a gang member, stole a car, attempted to murder one man in Earlimart, murdered another, and severely wounded a third man in Richgrove. He confessed to his crimes, and a jury found him guilty on all charges.

    Facts

    Andres Contreras was an admitted member of the Southern Gang (Mifa) of McFarland, California, in Kern County. The Southern Gang is known for crossing over the county line to attack rival gang members in Tulare County.

    On March 26, 2005, Contreras stole a white Honda Accord in McFarland and used it to commit a drive-by shooting in Kern County that night. The next morning was Easter, and Contreras met with his fellow gang member, Ezekiel Perez. Around 9:00 a.m., they went to a K Mart located in Delano. They purchased .22 caliber ammunition for Contreras’s rifle. Then they drove from Delano to Earlimart, where they saw Pedro Flores standing outside of this apartment, talking on his cell phone. Contreras and Perez stared at Flores while he was on the phone and flashed a gang sign at him; Flores responded with his middle finger.

    Contreras and Perez drove around the block and again passed Flores’s house and flashed a gang sign at him. While Contreras was driving, Perez pulled out the rifle and shot multiple rounds at Flores. None hit Flores. Flores dashed inside and made for an upstairs bedroom, where he and his sister peaked out the window at Contreras. Perez fired shots into the bedroom, before the Accord sped away from the scene.

    Contreras and Perez drove to Richgrove. Shortly after 10:00 a.m., they noticed a brown Honda at a gas station and decided to stop there. They flashed gang signs at Anthony Castro and his little brother, Victor. Contreras and Perez followed the Honda as it left the gas station. Anthony picked up his friend Alejandro Salazar, who lived nearby, and then drove home to drop off Victor. Castro and Salazar parked the car and left the residence on foot.

    According to Contreras, when he and Perez saw Castro and Salazar walking, Perez stated, “Yeah, I’m going to shoot them.” Contreras drove slowly by the two victims as Perez, in the backseat, fired several shots. According to witness statements, however, Contreras was actually the shooter, and Perez was the driver. Castro was shot in the chest and died. Salazar suffered three gunshot wounds: one to the head, one to the leg, and one to the buttocks. He survived but has not yet fully recovered.

    That evening, Deputies from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office spotted the stolen Honda at a residence in McFarland. They found Contreras, along with a .22 caliber rifle and a shotgun, in the backseat of the car.

    Contreras confessed to both shootings and further admitted to stealing the white Honda, buying the ammunition before the shooting, and wearing gloves before handling the gun. Officers executed a search warrant at Contreras’s home and found a shirt with the number “13” on it, a symbol of the Southern Gang. Witnesses described the shooter as wearing a shirt with “13” on it, and Contreras admitted he was wearing the shirt when the crimes were committed. He claimed that Perez, who was several years older and more senior in the gang, had coerced him to commit the crimes.

    Charles D. Stimson is Senior Legal Fellow and Andrew M. Grossman is Senior Legal Policy Analyst in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Adult Time for Adult Crimes: Gang Member Andres Contreras

    1. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Too bad crack and speed destroy the pre-frontal lobes of the human brain, it throws a wrench into the discussion. Are they still human? The distinguishing characteristic making us human is the reasoning/compassion centers of the brain. People don't realize we have Nine separate brains including the collective cells themselves. I sympathize with the Progressives in this one point, that our Society has made these monsters. I saw it myself in the lost children in South Denver, and I wonder why the government has made such a big deal about Pot they have driven the kids into alcohol and hard drugs.

      I saw the Lakewood CO police prosecute the victims of gang attack with greater urgency than the gangs. It made me wonder. It was as if the police wanted more chaos, that somehow they benefited from it. Look at the Columbine massacre, it was police policy to wait outside until the murderers killed everyone they wanted to and go in only after the shooting stopped. Everybody is so enamored with the police they failed to recognize the cowardice with which police treat those hostage situations. They like to go in and clean up the mess, but you can't get any protection until you are already dead.

      I think police are cowards. They go after the citizens because it is too dangerous to go after the killers. Our kids go into gangs because the police cannot, will not protect them but the gangs will. In the end it is our godlessness at the source and the government promotes that no end. No wonder we have such a gang problem.

    2. Bobbie Jay says:

      If these guys are immigrants, throw the book at em' and deport them. If not, throw the book at them! Civil is civil. This is a country of civility and there are NO EXCUSES, at any age (within a fine line of reason) not to be. If civil law isn't known, enforcing the law, will teach and severe disciplinary to deter uncivil ideas. These guys are old enough to know right from wrong even if they were never educated… It took thought. And money. Obviously they value time to kill. Not willed to do for themselves without violence and death of their choosing, while government forces us to pay for their living essentials. They could've gotten somewhere without the violence and they knew it!

    3. Arlene Savitsky, Kea says:

      There should be a special type of incarceration for this type of offender. Isolation from other gang members and criminal element would essential. Complete re-socialazation and education. Will it work, I don't know, how do you develop a concious,teach empathy? If they can achieve some sense of right and wrong, remorse for crimes committed,then maybe they can help others, while they remain incarcerated. Remember this is how they were raised, are they responsible for their upbringing, no. Does society need to be protected, YES. Should they never be released? I would like to hope that a life so young could be productive and contribute to society. I would think it would be many, many years before they would be able to prove themselves, and where can they safely do that? Well,that is when I would release them to the regular prison population and see if they can maintain themselves and be a productive, positive part of the prison system,in time maybe parole could be considered.

    4. Todd, Iraq says:

      I think that in crimes such as these that (JLWOP) should be enforced more often. The kid was 16 and in many cultures to include our own not that long ago you were considered an adult at that age. I feel that when it comes to crimes especially violent ones that age shouldn't be a factor within some reason. When a kid knows between right and wrong and commits the crime anyway becasue they feel they are a minor it would truly deter such acts. The next question would be to ask at what age do we try violent offenders as adults? This would be the debate the issue not the fact you put someone in prison for life at any age.

      Just A Point of View

    5. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      Trying a Juvinile as an as an adult is up to the prosecuter and decided by a judge. In Va. a juvy cannot be given the death sentence but can be held for his natura life. When a sixteen year old cold bloodedly shoots down people Ie: the sniper, or as in recent case kills a boy and his mother because he "might" be reconized after waking the boy who was napping on the downstairs couch. He broke into the home to steal weapons, cash and laptops, so in our state if you commit murder while in th comission of another crime it's lwop, and it should be, this boy had an extensive juvy record already. If there is a chance for rehab OK but if as in this case and sniper case there doesn't seem that chance,(after physh exams) then LWOP is the only answer. I ask would anyone of you want Manson loose again??

    6. Voice of Reason, Suw says:

      If the facts are as stated, then this person does deserve life without parole. But shouldn't the Judge be making this decision? We need to empower Judges to judge and discern in juvenile cases. Mandatory sentencing of minors tried as adults takes away a Judge's input. If we don't trust a Judge then he shouldn't be on the Bench in the first place. We weren't part of these proceedings and for us to weigh in now is merely our opinion after we hear someone else's presentation of the facts.

      It is one thing to try a juvenile as an adult. It is another to sentence him as an adult without any regard for his age at the time of the crime, the heinousness of the crime, the liklihood of transformation, etc. In other words, very deep and thoughtful considerations need to be weighed. Hardly something for us bloggers here.

    7. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      I believe in Adult time for Adult crimes. Hey, in this world if you commit a crime and know someone in the White House, you get off scott free! I think the criminal are referred to as impacted people.

      Is this change we can believe in!

    8. dave, dayton says:

      Whatever happened to, " If you do the crime, you do the time!". These people do not belong in a civilized society. Their behavior does not reflect civilized behavior. Don't give me the B. S. " they are only 16", at what point do they responsible for their action? They were not defending themselves, they went looking for someone to kill.

    9. B. S. Franks says:

      Incarserate the parents and the offenders. Lock them up together in an isolation cell and don't let them see the light of day until they have figured it all out.

      They will likely never figure it out and more than likely one would eventually kill the other.

      Work on these problems: Apathetic parents, apathetic police, easy access to all kinds of drugs, easy access to weapons that kill.

    10. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      All good points.

      It is tragic that our youth gets drawn into gangs. There is no solution. Yes, we may save a "few" but the reality is that many of these kids are heartless cold-blooded killers. You can blame it on the environment, their upbringing or lack thereof.

      There is no solution unless we turn into a police state and round them all up. No one wants that.

      I have some of them in my neighborhood. I watch my back but the real danger is that some of these people will not hesitate to attack or kill a human being. Most people are not "wired" like that so are unprepared to defend themselves if they are attacked.

      Adult time for Adult Crime? Yes.

    11. Julian, DC says:

      Re: "If these guys are immigrants, throw the book at em’ and deport them."

      That's assuming the countries violent immigrant offenders come from have effective judicial systems that will tackle the problem. Most don't, and violent offenders who are deported often end up further radicalized and come back here more dangerous than ever.

      From knowgangs.com:

      "Various members of the newly formed MS-13 were soon arrested and deported back to El Salvador. All deportees were first housed in the Guezaltepeque Prison, in Northern El Salvador. Quickly and unexpectedly, Mara Salvatrucha flourished in the prison system and recruitment began on the streets in El Salvador, while the gang continued to grow in the United States as well."

      This history is well documented. Like it or not, gangs in the US are a US problem, one that can't be solved by simply wishing it away.

    12. Jerry from Chicago says:

      Are any of these characters here legally, or does that matter anymore?

      The scenario will play out as usual. The murderer will go to trial. The state will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting him. He will be provided with a court appointed lawyer and psychiatrist, who will also cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. We will hear about his terrible childhood, how he was abused in a dozen different ways by his parents (or lack of parents) and his environment and his socio-economic circumstances. We will be told that HE is the real victim and how "society" is to blame.

      He will be found guilty and be incarcerated, costing the state $70,000 to $80,000 a year. The verdict sending him to prison will be appealed, costing additional hundreds of thousands. The Appellate Court judge will likely be one of those who feels that "punishment" isn't the right answer to dealing with those 'forced' into a life of crime, by circumstances beyond their control. The murderer will have his sentence reduced to time served and will be remanded to an outpatient half-way house where he can interact with others and workout his issues until 'cured'.

      Within two months, he will kill someone else and the whole thing will start again.

    13. J. Galt says:

      Degenerate scum like these pieces of filth and utter clueless know-nothing morons who make excuses for them by mentioning their "frontal lobes" and blaming society, the police, 9 separate brains and other such garbage are the true COWARDS and cancer we are infested with throughout our society.No accountability, no responsibility, no guts, no clue.

    14. Albert campbellsvill says:

      What in the name of all that is holy are these lowlife doing in my country.The cost in $ and pain these immigrants cause is huge,feds have obligation to protect us from foriegn invasion. theY do nothing about gangs,juvenile or adult. Send police or nat guard force them across the border at gunpoint.

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