GOSHEN — Jose Alejandro was sentenced Thursday, May 23, to 100 years in prison for the attempted murder of Flavio Contreras, a shooting that happened exactly one year earlier.
Alejandro was found guilty by a jury on April 23, 2013. The jury also added a criminal gang enhancement to the conviction, which doubles his sentence.
Elkhart Circuit Court Judge Terry Shewmaker called the crime a “cold, callous, calculated act of brutality” and sentenced Alejandro to 50 years in prison. Because of the criminal gang enhancement, the sentence was increased to 100 years.
Alejandro, 21, entered the U.S. illegally at age 6 and is subject to deportation after completing his sentence.
He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim for medical bills totalling $181.649.41.
“It is clear to me Mr. Alejandro could have called it off at any time,” Shewmaker said. “You are the one who handed the gun to the person who was the shooter. You are the one who ordered it to occur.”
Defense attorney Clifford Williams argued for leniency based on Alejandro’s age and his “potential to do productive things” for the community.
Williams said his client plans to appeal the conviction.
Alejandro stared toward the front of the courtroom throughout the proceedings.
“I am a serious violent person,” he said when given the opportunity to make a statement. “We can change that around.”
Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Becker argued that Alejandro had consistently ignored the law from a young age. He entered the country illegally at age 6, began smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol at age 9 and brought a BB gun to school in fifth grade, she said. He had a lengthy juvenile record before becoming a gang member at age 20.
Becker said Alejandro showed no concern for anyone other than himself and his “Latin Kings buddies.”
On the evening of May 23, 2012, Alejandro went to Contreras’ home looking for Contreras’ friend, Dennis Petino. Alejandro and several accomplices took Contreras to a county road away from his home and demanded to know where Petino was. When he did not tell them, Contreras was shot four or five times, beaten and left in a ditch on the side of the road. He was found soon after by a passing motorist. While Alejandro was not the shooter, he provided the gun used to shoot Contreras, prosecutors said.