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Calif. Teens Sentenced to Youth Camp

June 29, 2002

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SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Four teenagers who severely beat five elderly Mexican farm workers were sentenced Friday to terms ranging from four months in a youth detention camp to time in adult prisons.

In sentencing the teenagers, Judge James Milliken cited the severity of the attack on the men _ all in their 60s and 70s _ in a remote canyon in July 2000.

``The fact that this behavior is possible is a sad commentary on the community,″ Milliken said. ``I, for one, feel we have to tell the community that we are not going to put up with it.″

The teenagers who were sentenced were among eight boys who, according to prosecutors, hunted down and attacked the farm workers out of racial hatred.

The teenagers pleaded no contest to charges that included assault with a deadly weapon with a special hate-crime allegation, elder abuse and robbery.

The other defendants will be sentenced next month.

The most lenient sentence handed down Friday, 120 days in a youth camp, went to Morgan Manduley, 17, who the prosecutor called the ``least culpable″ in the attack. Manduley also received five years of probation.

Manduley was the lead plaintiff in a challenge to Proposition 21, the 2001 state law that allows prosecutors to try juveniles as adults for violent offenses without a judge’s approval. In April, the state Supreme Court upheld the voter-approved initiative.

Two other defendants who prosecutors said played more serious roles in the attack were ordered to serve 90 days in an adult state prison. After that time, their cases will be reevaluated and Milliken could sentence them to as much as 15 years in prison.

One of the victims, Alfredo Sanchez, 64, said he still has five BB pellets embedded in his body. ``I want justice according to the law,″ Sanchez told the court, speaking through an interpreter.

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