Drug Use not a Murder Excuse
Posted by Childress on May 31, 2006
California Highway Patrol officer Thomas Steiner was gunned down in broad daylight last year by a gang wannabe who wanted to impress gang higher-ups.
Steiner's assassin will spend the rest of his life in prison, thanks to some clear-headed thinking by the courts:
A Superior Court judge acted properly when he sentenced a teenager to life in prison without the possibility of parole after the boy admitted to killing a California Highway Patrol officer outside a Pomona courthouse to impress a street gang, a state appeals court ruled.
The three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld Pomona Superior Court Judge Philip Gutierrez's decision to impose the maximum sentence on Valentino Mitchell Arenas.
The teen's attorney had argued that the judge should have imposed a straight life sentence and considered Arenas' low IQ and heavy drug use in the days before the April 2004 shooting of Officer Thomas Steiner as factors for a more lenient sentence.
The panel ruled that Gutierrez appropriately considered the circumstances of the crime.
"Officer Steiner was shot and killed, not in a traffic stop or in a confrontation with a suspect where he would be on his guard, but in a most cold-blooded and cowardly manner," the judges wrote. "(Arenas) chose Officer Steiner at random because of the uniform he wore."
Arenas, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, exhibited "a clear-headed ability to plan and carry out his crime."
Arenas was sentenced last March after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. He was not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.
Thanks to AP for this report.