Local News

Friday, Apr 11 2014 06:00 PM

Brothers who wish to withdraw plea deal could get life sentence if convicted at trial

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Humberto, left, and Vicente Guizar-Figueroa in an earlier appearance in Kern County Superior Court.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Two brothers who wish to withdraw their pleas in connection with a home invasion should strongly consider the amount of time in custody they could serve if convicted of all the charges against them, a Kern County judge said Friday.

Judge Kenneth C. Twisselman II told the attorneys representing Vicente and Humberto Guizar-Figueroa to make sure their clients are aware they could face 25 years to life in prison if a jury finds them guilty of the seven felonies they're charged with. The plea deal they had agreed to came with a stipulated sentence of 33 years, meaning there was a definite release date once they served their time.

If convicted of all charges, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

The Guizar-Figueroa brothers pleaded no contest in January to three counts of assault with a gun on a person. Prosecutors dismissed three counts of kidnapping for ransom and a charge of first-degree burglary.

At the next hearing on May 16, a motion will be heard to withdraw their plea and at that point schedule a trial. If the brothers change their minds again and decide to stick with the plea deal, a new sentencing date will be set.

Deputies have said the brothers entered a Rosedale-area home June 6, 2011 in the 2000 block of Willow Brook Street, holding a husband, wife and daughter hostage. They planned to take the husband to the pawn shop he owned on Chester Avenue to steal cash and other valuables.

An older couple in the back of the home escaped. They ran to a neighbor's home, and the neighbor called 911. Deputies and a SWAT team surrounded the home.

The brothers saw the deputies outside and told the homeowner to go out and tell them everything was fine, deputies said. The homeowner walked out the door and kept going, and his wife and daughter ran after him.

The Guizar-Figueroas then ran out the back door, deputies said. They were immediately arrested.

Arturo Revelo, the former attorney for Vicente Guizar-Figueroa, had argued the brothers were forced to commit crimes after their father and sister were kidnapped by members of a cartel in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Prosecutor Courtney Lewis has said the evidence does not support Revelo's story.

She said the brothers targeted the homes of pawn shop owners to accrue money and valuables, and there is evidence they may have committed home invasions in Yakima, Wash. and Dallas, Texas.

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