22-year-old Jose Montano and 20-year-old Marcelles Peter, two of the rapists found guilty of brutally assaulting a 16-year-old girl on the Richmond High School campus in 2009 were sentenced Thursday in a Contra Costa County Courtroom. For their part in the assault Montano and Peter will receive sentences of 33 years to life and 29 years to life in prison, respectively.
Both men were convicted last month of forcible rape while acting in concert with others, a forcible act of sexual penetration in concert, and forcible oral copulation in concert.
The victim, now 20 years old and struggling to finish her high school diploma after missing out on her junior and senior years, did not attend yesterday's sentencing. Instead, she sent in a letter, read aloud in court yesterday by a county victims' advocate, forgiving her attackers:
"Because of what the both of you did, I missed it. You both took a lot from me, more than you will ever know," she wrote. "But I just want to say to the both of you, I forgive both of you. I forgive both of you because I deserve to be at peace. But no matter how hard I try and wish I could, I'll never forget, and there are parts of me that will never be healed."
Judge Barbara Zuniga did not go easy with her sentencing, telling the defendants, "Jane Doe doesn't get a second chance" and that they had "dehumanized her. She stopped being a human being. She became a thing for you to torture and play with."
Montano told the court all he could do to ease the suffering the victim and his own family had felt was to apologize and "wish to move forward from this situation." Peter, meanwhile, remained silent although his defense attorney still maintained that evidence proved his innocence.
On the night of the attack, the victim was found underneath a picnic table next to a pool of vomit with her dress pushed up and her belongings missing. Ari Morales and Manuel Ortega, the so-called "main instigator" in the ordeal, both pled guilty late last year. Morales is serving 27 years in prison and Ortega will do 32 years of hard time. Two other suspects, John Crane and Elvis Torrentes are still awaiting trial.