A 14-year-old male gang member being tried as an adult in the stabbing of a teen boy in San Jose on Nov. 17 could face a prison sentence of 21 years to life, a prosecutor said today. A plea hearing today in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose for murder defendant Christian Cotero, being held at the county juvenile hall on $1 million bail, was continued to Dec. 18, Deputy District Attorney Robert Baker said. San Jose police consider the 14-year-old Cotero a member of the Sureno criminal street gang, Baker said.
On Nov. 17, at 4:14 p.m., San Jose police received a report of a person stabbed outside a home in the 2000 block of Terilyn Avenue, a neighborhood between King Road and U.S. Highway 101 in East San Jose. The victim, a 17-year-old boy, was transported to a hospital with a life-threatening stab wound, police said.
According to police reports used by prosecutors in the case, prior to the stabbing, the victim was walking on a street when three male Hispanic youths approached and asked if he “banged,” meaning if he was a gang member, Baker said. The teen replied he did not and then one of the youths said, “just rush him,” according to Baker. The youths chased him for several blocks as he headed for his home on Terilyn. When he reached the front yard of his home, they followed him into the yard where Cotero then produced a kitchen knife and thrust it toward the victim, stabbing him in the stomach, Baker said. “He practically killed the victim,” the prosecutor said.
The youths perceived the victim, who survived the stabbing, as a gang member and may have thought he disrespected them, Baker said. Police arrested Cotero on suspicion of attempted murder on Nov. 25 and the teen was arraigned the next day as an adult in Superior Court on charges of premeditated attempted murder, inflicting great bodily injury, using a deadly weapon and a gang enhancement, he said. The premeditated attempted murder charge alone carries a potential prison term of seven years to life and combined with the other charges, Cotero’s possible sentence comes to 21 years to life, he said.
Three assistant district attorneys reviewed the case and decided to charge Cotero as an adult amid concerns over public safety in the community, he said. “It was an act of senseless gang violence,” Baker said. Cotero is housed juvenile hall on $1 million bail set by Judge Deborah Ryan after prosecutors unsuccessfully argued in favor of no bail, he said. Baker, who has handled gang-related criminal cases, said he was not sure if juveniles as young or younger than Cotero have been tried as adults. However, he said, “in my experience, (in gang cases), they just get younger and younger.” Cotero’s attorney, Clinton Morales, from the county’s Alternate Defender Office, was ill today and another defender substituted for him during the hearing, Baker said.
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