Oscar Mondragon will spend a little over three years in jail for involuntary manslaughter and violation of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act by pointing or aiming a gun or pistol at another.
He is accused of shooting and killing his 12-year-old brother, Javier Mondragon, at close range at their home in the Valley View Mobile Home Park off Eastside Drive in Marietta on June 2, 2011.
Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary E. Staley sentenced Mondragon to 10 years with five years to serve in prison. He will receive credit for the 22 months he has already served in a local youth detention center.
Mondragon also received a 10-year sentence for the street gang violation, but it will run at the same time as the other sentence.
“You took the life of a 12-year-old victim,” Staley said. “Your record indicates an escalation of criminal behavior.”
Based on a letter he submitted to the court, Staley said she hoped he had changed.
“I hope things have a better future for you and that’s within your grasp,” she said.
Cobb Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans said he thought it was appropriate to reduce the sentence for involuntary manslaughter. The maximum sentence is 25 years.
“This appears as a factual matter to be an accident,” he said.
Evans said he spoke to the defendant’s family, including his mother Eloisa Castaneva, who testified on behalf of the defense during the hearing, and they were OK with the sentence.
“I’m sure this defendant does not want to go to the state system. No defendant wants to go to the state system, but at the same time these are very serious offenses, and this is why gang members shouldn’t have guns,” Evans said.
He said the state couldn’t ignore Mondragon’s previous criminal history, either, and his association with the LNS 13 gang.
“This sentence is more than fair under the circumstances,” he said.
Since he was 12 years old, Mondragon has been arrested on numerous juvenile charges, including burglary, drug possession, running away, eluding police and probation violation.
More danger in prison system?
Mondragon was represented by Jason Treadaway, who argued that his client should be released back into the custody of his family because the state prison system could reintroduce him to gang violence.
“He was housed at the YDC for a reason,” Treadaway said. “Children at that age are impressionable and preyed upon. They are in a special class that deserves special treatment.”
He understood the severity of the crime but was worried that lifetime prisoners who were incarcerated for gang-related offenses would take advantage of Mondragon because they know he will get out of jail in the next three years.
“Can’t you imagine how much one of these old-time gang bangers down at Jackson would relish the opportunity to get a hold of Mr. Mondragon and to take him under their wing … he would be clay in their hands that they can mold, train and teach the ways of the street and the gang,” Treadaway said.
Mother pleads for her son
His mother, Casteneva, his cousin, Maria Galdamez, and Victor Pena with the Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center all testified and agreed that sending Mondragon to jail was a bad idea.
“My opinion is that I don’t want him to be sent to prison because of the bad influences there,” Castaneva said, using an interpreter.
She told the court that she has seen a change in her son since he was arrested, that he has plans to work and is a different person.
When asked if her son has shown any remorse to the shooting, she only said she has asked him what happened that night, and he remained silent.
Castaneva said if her son were released to the family’s custody though, he would not be allowed to live with her, but she would find somewhere for him to live.