An associate of a Santa Maria-based group of MS-13 gang members pleaded no contest to attempted murder charges last week and was immediately sentenced to 12 years in state prison.
Jose Eleuterio Mejia Orellano, 29, was charged in July 2016 with two counts of attempted murder and one count of a conspiracy to commit gang participation. He initially entered a not guilty plea on July 11, 2016.
After Orellano changed his plea on April 26, Judge John McGregor handed down his sentence at Superior Court in Santa Maria, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen, who is prosecuting the case.
Orellano, also known as "Extrano," was arrested shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2016, after Oxnard Police officers stopped a 1996 Honda Accord, in which they found a .25-caliber handgun near where Orellano was seated in the vehicle's passenger seat, according to court records.
A judge on Friday denied a motion by Santa Maria prosecutors to consolidate two groups of five defendants in the MS-13 gang murder trial.
His arrest preceded the arrests of more than a dozen MS-13 members in March 2016 following an investigation into 10 homicides that occurred in the Santa Maria Valley from 2013 to 2016.
A total of 17 defendants were indicted, including 12 in an upper felony case, which includes murder charges, and five defendants — including Orellano — in a lower felony case, which does not include murder charges.