Local News

Tuesday, Mar 25 2014 11:50 AM

Sentencing postponed as brothers in alleged home invasion try to withdraw from plea deal

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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 pleaded no contest to three felony counts in connection with a 2011 home invasion are seeking to withdraw their pleas because of a dispute over the amount of custody credits they believe they're due.

Sentencing for Humberto and Vicente Guizar-Figueroa, scheduled to occur Tuesday, was postponed to April 11 while their attorneys file motions for withdrawing the pleas and prosecutors draft an opposing motion. Judge Kenneth C. Twisselman II will then consider the matter at the next hearing.

If the motions for withdrawal are granted, the brothers will go to trial. They face 40 years to life if convicted of all the charges against them.

If the motions are denied, they'll be sentenced April 11.

The plea deal -- in which they pleaded no contest to three counts of assault with a gun on a person -- came with a stipulated sentence of 33 years in prison. Three counts of kidnapping for ransom and a count of first-degree burglary were dismissed under the deal.

Defense attorney Arturo Revelo, representing 18-year-old Vicente Guizar-Figueroa, said the brothers thought they would receive 50 percent credit for the time they've already served in custody. Probation Department officials, however, said they could only receive 15 percent credit.

The two have been in custody since their June 6, 2011 arrest. Humberto Guizar-Figueroa turned 27 earlier this year.

Deputies said the brothers entered a Rosedale area home that June night in the 2000 block of Willow Brook Street, holding a husband, wife and daughter hostage. They planned to take to 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 and went to the home of a neighbor, who called 911. Deputies and a SWAT team surrounded the home.

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

The brothers then ran out the back door and were immediately taken into custody, deputies said.

Revelo has argued that the brothers were forced to commit crimes, including the home invasion, after their father and sister were kidnapped by members of a cartel in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Revelo said cartel members threatened their relatives' lives if they didn't comply with demands to commit robberies and send money.

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.

Lewis has said there is evidence the Guizar-Figueroa brothers may have committed home invasions in Yakima, Wash. and Dallas, Texas.

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