Richmond High gang rape defendant gets 27 years


Ari Abdullah Morales was sentenced Friday morning in Martinez after he accepted a plea deal last year with the district attorney's office in exchange for guilty pleas to charges of rape in concert, penetration with a foreign object and forced oral copulation in concert.

Without the agreement, Morales would have received a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga said.

"I think you're aware that what happened that night, and what you did and what you failed to do in getting help for the almost inconceivable...she was so dehumanized," the judge told the defendant.

According to police, Morales, then 16, penetrated the victim with a foreign object and stood by while she was beaten and raped by accomplices in a darkened courtyard at Richmond High the night of Oct. 24, 2009.

In court, the defendant's parents and sister spoke in support of Morales, saying that he has been a good son and brother.

"I know he is very sorry for what happened, he wouldn't harm a soul," Maria Morales, the defendant's sister, told the court. "Nothing is the same without him, he was the glue to our family."

In a rare move, the judge granted the family's request to hug Morales before he was led out of the courtroom.

Morales will be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, who did not attend the sentencing.

The teen is the second of six defendants who has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the gang rape -- a brutal crime that shocked the community and drew national attention.

A co-defendant, 22-year-old Manuel Ortega of Richmond, is now serving a 32-year prison sentence after taking a similar plea deal in which he admitted to raping and beating the victim.

Two other co-defendants, Richmond man Jose Carlos Montano, 22, and Marcelles Peter of Pinole, 20, are set to face trial later this month, Senior Deputy District Attorney John Cope said.

A trial date has not been set for the remaining two defendants, 25-year-old Elvis Josue Torrentes and John Crane, Jr., 46, both from Richmond.

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