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  • Adult Time for Adult Crime: Samuel Puebla

    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: Samuel Puebla (17)
    Victim: Valerie Zavala
    Crimes: First degree murder, attempted rape and felony murder
    Crime date: January 1, 2003 in Fillmore, California

    Samuel Puebla attempted to rape a college student whom he met at a party and, when she resisted, beat her head and chest before strangling her to death with his bare hands.

    Valerie Zavala was an attractive 19-year-old student attending college in San Jose, California. She had graduated from Fillmore High School and was returning home to visit her family during the Christmas and New Year’s break.

    On December 31, 2002, Zavala attended a New Year’s Eve party at the home of a friend in Fillmore. There she ran into Puebla, a senior at Fillmore High School. At around 2 a.m., as the party was winding down, Puebla asked Zavala for a ride home. Zavala agreed and offered to drive an intoxicated female friend to her home, too. After dropping off her friend, she set off for Puebla’s home.

    As Zavala was driving, Puebla attempted to sexually assault her. When Zavala resisted, Puebla choked her until she fell unconscious for a short period of time. After she came to, she managed to escape Puebla and ran.

    Puebla chased Zavala and caught her in the parking lot of a nearby church. He struck her head with such force that it ruptured her eardrum. Zavala fell to the ground. Puebla ripped off her clothing, yanked out her tampon, and attempted to rape her, without success. Zavala struggled to defend herself, but Puebla struck her repeatedly on the head, sat on her chest, and ultimately strangled her with his hands.

    Puebla dumped Zavala’s body in a drainage culvert, where a jogger found it the next morning.

    A search of the crime scene produced Zavala’s earring, tampon, and underwear. Trace, circumstantial, and biological evidence, including DNA, connected Puebla to the crimes, and he was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

    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]

    15 Responses to Adult Time for Adult Crime: Samuel Puebla

    1. BT, Port Allen, LA says:

      I'm not surprised why the ACLU website does not use this story, and others that have appeared on Heritage website, to lament how "bad" the JLWOP sentencing is.I just don't understand how they can water down the facts and make it seem like "kids" as young as 13 ( I believe I had heard the figure was 8) are being unjustly and cruelly punished for crimes that they committed.

    2. Garry, Phoenix says:

      Gotta love those macho males….

    3. Mike Winsauer, Kings says:

      I wish that this POHG (piece of human garbage) would get to read these comments so he can know much he and others like him are hated for the heinous crimes they commit. Like most other murders, he is a coward and a total loser. If put in prison, there is always a chance he could be released by some out-of-touch judge and then be free to continue raping and killing innocent victims.

      He should get the ultimate sentence to ensure the safety of all decent people.

      Anything less is a travesty.

    4. E Fresquez says:

      I certainly don't think these guys need any breaks. These guys are cry babies, they want to play but don't want to pay. They go to jail for crimes they commit and then cry they were just a kid. In my time, age didn't matter, you got your sentence you did the time. Let them pay!

    5. jlm0888 says:

      The majority of these child monsters are hispanic, but we don't have a problem with immigration laws run amuck, sanctuary cities, a border like a sieve, and a bunch of politicians who are encouraging the takeover of our country so they can buy votes (via entitlement programs) with our tax dollars.

    6. Stacie Pike, Madera, says:

      Mu daughter, too, was murdered by her fiance's 16 year old ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. My daughter was a really sweet person and never said a bad word about anybody-she was trying to be freinds with the perpatrators. We still haven't gone to court yet and its been almost 2 years. I hope they get what's coming to them! ALL these cowards need to be gone from society asap!

    7. Jill, California says:

      Stacie, my heart goes out to you. I know there are no words that anyone can say to make it better.

      Unfortunately, society is filled with bad people who think nothing of taking another life. Meanwhile, your heart will ache forever. And when you do get your day in court, you will be victimized again, forced to hear painful details while the legal system bends over backwards to protect the rights of the people who took your daughter from you. Those people deserve no more mercy or consideration than they showed your daughter.

      For what it's worth, I send you a hug of support. It's not much with all the pain you're facing, but at least someone out in cyberspace cares.

      • Stacie Pike says:

        Thank you for being so blunt, yet truthful. Although it kills me, it also allows me to feel. Everyone wants to 'shush' it or deny it. But in my life, in my heart it is SO THERE. I am crippled!! And I mean that wholeheartedly. Thank you for understanding. My thoughts be with you~~

    8. Maggie, Sacramento says:

      A message to Stacie Pike. Dear Stacie, we are truly sorry about your daughters murder. Those of us who have loved ones who were murdered by juveniles have started an organization to try to beat this liberal movement across the USA. Please look up National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifer (NOVJL) http://www.jlwopvictims.org and get in touch with us. We need all the help we can get. My husband of 29 years was beaten to death with a metal pipe by two Juveniles,ages 15 & 16. The only cruel & unusal punishement that I know of is what our loved ones went through as they were being murdered. Spending the rest of your life in prison because of a BAD CHOICE you made is NOT Cruel & Unusual punishment!..it is called justice. The day our loved ones can walk back into our lives is the day these vicious killers can walk the street again!

    9. Bill S., Kihei, Maui says:

      To err is human; to forgive, Divine. So let's leave the forgiveness to God and meet out fair justice on earth.

    10. Jessicca Zavala Vent says:

      I want to first thank you all for your comments! Valerie was my sister and on January 1, 2010 we had the 7th year anniversery come and go! My family has been torn to peices and I only hope none of you have to experience any of this horror.

      Stacie Im sorry you have yet to go to trial. It took about 1 year and 1/2 before our trial started but once it was over it was a little peice of fresh air. Life will never be the same with out them but at least its that little bit easier to sleep!!

      Val I miss you ever so much and I cant wait for the day to see and hug you again!!!


    11. amanda, oceanside, c says:

      I knew Samuel Puebla for a very short period of time. I met him at a church youth convention along with his other good friend and my former best friend Sam Perez. Puebla seemed very nice, but that just goes to show you that you never know what people are capable of doing. What he did was wrong and unforgivable! and he deserves to suffer for what he did. I remember when Sam and I found out of what happened we were in shock and could not believe that Puebla could do such a horrible crime. My prayers go out to the victims family.

    12. Christina says:

      I think he did a grow up crime, let him do the grown up time!!! He needs to sit in prison where he belongs and never be able to be set free. valerie will never see the light of day and niether shall Sammy Puebla!!! He may have been a nice guy and was good in school but it all means nothing, He killed a wonderful girl and her life is over and he should stay where he is till he dies! I dont feel sorry for this 17 year old liar and killer, I feel sorry for the mother with a broken heart and father that lost his baby! I pray the family is doing well these days and just the opposite for Sammy!

    13. Katie says:

      I went to school with Sammi shared a lot of the same classes with him knew a lot of the same people that he knew. I watched as all this took place and I still find it hard to grasp that he was the one that committed this crime I think there was more to this than people let on the only evidence they every had against him was the sperm they recovered from her body. Having lived in that town for as long as I did and hearing people talk I still don't believe that he was the one behind her murder. I feel very much for her and her family but I think they should have done more investigating before they laid the blame on some 17 year old that now has absolutely no future.

    14. Stacie Pike says:

      122 weeks after I wrote that comment only now am I see the people who tried to comfort me thru their words. THANK YOU so much. The generosity of people often astounds me as my view of the world tends to be more negative now a days. Thanks again and from here I will go and find out what happened with this slime-ball 'Sammy'. My thoughts are with you-Valerie's family!

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