Judge postpones teen rape case sentencing, pending February hearing

By From page A3 | December 08, 2012

Alexander Cervantes

Alexander Cervantes

FAIRFIELD — Sentencing for a Vacaville teenager who raped, sodomized and repeatedly stabbed a 13-year-old girl and her baby brother was postponed Friday until at least February.

Alexander Cervantes was only 14 when he drunkenly broke into the girl’s Vacaville home in the middle of a December night in 2010 and savagely attacked her – stabbing her 42 times and stabbing her 1-year-old brother 13 times, then passing out on a bed where police found him after the girl made her way to safety.

The Solano County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Cervantes as an adult.

After a three-day trial in September, a jury found Cervantes, now 16, guilty of premeditated attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, torture, assault, rape and several sexual assault charges.

Cervantes had been scheduled to be sentenced last week but a lawyer, Peter Obstler, with the international law firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP, announced they would be taking up Cervantes’ case. The law firm brings extensive resources to the case. Bingham McCutchen’s 2011 revenue has been reported at more than $868 million and the firm has more than 1,000 attorneys working on three continents.

Obstler has raised concerns that a long prison sentence sought by prosecutors may be unconstitutional. He tried without success Friday to get Judge Harry S. Kinnicutt to weigh in on whether a possible 60-year prison sentence with Cervantes not being eligible for parole until he is 76 years old would be unconstitutional.

Just a few weeks before Cervantes’ trial, the California Supreme Court ruled that juveniles can’t be sentenced to prison time that would likely exceed their life span.

“. . . (S)entencing a juvenile offender for a nonhomicide offense to a term of years with a parole eligibility date that falls outside the juvenile offender‟s natural life expectancy constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment,” the state Supreme Court ruling stated. “Although proper authorities may later determine that youths should remain incarcerated for their natural lives, the state may not deprive them at sentencing of a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate their rehabilitation and fitness to reenter society in the future.”

Obstler has also raised concerns that Cervantes was not examined by a psychiatrist before his trial. Obstler’s concerns will be the focus of a hearing Kinnicutt scheduled for Feb. 11. A date for sentencing may be scheduled at the end of that hearing.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

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