Two young men who were in the car during a gang-related slaying in December 2007 were sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for complicity to commit murder.
Attorneys for Adrian Buenrostro, 19, and Isaias Manuel, 20, said that neither was a member of the Latin Kings gang.
"These were young men who were doing very well with their lives, with their families, with school. They were being recruited by the gang," said Jim Lowry, who represented Buenrostro.
Buenrostro's family had left Los Angeles to get away from gang violence, Lowry said. Buenrostro was doing well as a student at Lafayette High School and was in line for a scholarship at Asbury College, he said.
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When Buenrostro got into the car, Lowry said, he had no idea what was going to happen. By the time he figured out that there was trouble ahead, Lowry argued, Buenrostro could have faced retribution if he had tried to leave.
"It would have been very difficult for Adrian to say 'Hey, guys, stop the car and let me out,' " Lowry said.
What happened that evening was that Luis Quiroz, 19, was shot in the head and killed on Trailwood Lane off Alexandria Drive. A prosecutor said he was killed because he was dating a member of a rival gang.
Prosecutors have netted several convictions tied to the slaying.
Last week, Manny Erevia, 16, who admitted he was the shooter, and Jose Cruz, 17, appeared in court for facilitation to commit murder. They will remain in a juvenile detention center until they are sentenced next year as adults.
Last month, the gang leaders pleaded guilty.
Matthew "King Red Dog" Robey, 27, who prosecutors said ordered the killing, was sentenced to first-degree complicity to manslaughter. Prosecutors recommended a 20-year sentence. Julio Vargas-Torres, 18, pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation. Prosecutors, who said Vargas-Torres communicated Robey's order and supplied the handgun, recommended that he serve five years. Neither man has been sentenced.
Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone, who sentenced Buenrostro and Manuel Thursday, noted that both will get credit for having served 448 days.
Lowry argued that Buenrostro should be given credit for 60 additional days. If he had been in the state prison instead of the county jail since his arrest, Lowry said, he could have earned those days by working in the prison.
Scorsone noted that Buenrostro has made a deal with prosecutors that called for a three-year sentence.
"I'm not inclined to undo that deal," the judge said, noting that the crime for which Buenrostro pleaded guilty resulted in the death of a young man.