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Felon gets three years for assaulting school student

BARSTOW • A 40-year-old man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for attacking a Barstow High School student outside of the school in April.

Jose Villanueva pleaded guilty to assaulting an 18-year-old student while co-defendant Gloria Romero, also in her 40s, attacked the victim’s 16-year-old sister.

While parents dropped their students off in front of campus, Romero, Villanueva and another man who fled the scene parked their truck behind the victim’s vehicle before the woman got out and began beating the girl who had reportedly fought with the woman’s daughter the day before, prosecutors said.

When the male victim came to her aid, Villanueva and the other man attacked him, continuing to beat him while he was on the ground.

Villanueva was originally charged with two counts of willful cruelty to a child and assault with a deadly weapon after authorities believed he attacked the victim with a screwdriver. Judge Miriam Morton decided not to hold Villanueva to answer for the child cruelty charges. The victim suffered multiple lacerations to his upper chest area, though police called the wounds superficial.

“There was a question of whether there was a weapon involved,” said Deputy Public Defender Troy Padgett. “There was no weapon found and there was a witness who said he never saw it.”

The victim reported being stabbed three times and suffering chronic back pain, ankle pain and problems walking, according to his impact statement read by Deputy District Attorney Lloyd Masson during Villanueva’s sentencing. The victim also said he has received threats, causing him to be paranoid at night.

Masson also read an impact statement from the victim’s father who said he was disappointed with Villanueva’s penalty, saying “there is no law in Barstow.”

According to court records, Villanueva has an extensive criminal history including convictions for making criminal threats, possession of marijuana for sale and possessing a firearm as a felon. He was also charged with criminal street gang activity, though he was never convicted.

Had Villanueva gone to trial, he would have faced a maximum of six years in prison for his charge with enhancements for his prior felony convictions, Masson said.

“Three years state prison was discussed with the victims and police before it was conveyed and it was agreed that it would be an appropriate decision,” Masson said.

"I was happy with the result,” Padgett said. “I think it was a fair disposition.”

During the preliminary hearing in June, the female co-defendant, Romero, pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor child cruelty charges and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Romero, who only had traffic violations on her record, made the deal directly with the court, bypassing negotiations with the District Attorney’s office altogether.

Contact the writer: (760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com


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