Teens sentenced for raping girls in park

contrerasRodriguezSAN DIEGO — Two teenagers who kidnapped and repeatedly raped two girls in a Rancho Penasquitos park were sentenced to decades in prison Thursday.

Leonel Contreras,18,  and William Steven Rodriguez, 17, were convicted last year by separate juries.

Rodriguez was found guilty of 10 of 21 charges, including forcible oral copulation and forcible sodomy, in connection with the Sept. 3, 2011, attack. Contreras,  was convicted on 21 counts, including conspiracy, rape and kidnapping.

Wednesday, Judge Peter Deddeh sentenced Rodriguez to 50 years to life in prison and Contreras to 58 years to life.

The judge said the crime was “brutal, callous and ruthless” and said he would have handed down much harsher sentences if the law had allowed it. He said Contreras called the shots in the assault and he did not believe the teen could be rehabilitated.

“I would have sentenced you to 640 years to life if I could, but since you are a minor, you have been spared,” Deddeh told Contreras. “Because of your attitude and behavior, you deserved that sentence.”

Before sentencing, the prosecutor read a letter to the court from the parents of one of the victims. The parents their daughter’s life was dramatically altered by the assault.

“You have robbed these victims of their spirit,” Deddeh told Rodriquez. “They will have scars that will last forever.”

In her closing argument, Patrick said the defendants had a plan to assault the girls and Contreras told Rodriguez that he had a knife.

But Rodriguez’s attorney, Dana Feuling, said there was no conspiracy between the defendants and that her client acted on “impulse.” She said Rodriguez cooperated after his arrest and admitted what he did.

Contreras’ attorney, Michael Begovich, told the jury that police coerced a false confession from his client and prosecutors lacked evidence tying the defendant to the crime.

Patrick told jurors that the victims, then 15 and 16 years old, were friends who went to a family party in the 12600 block of Spindletop Road.

The prosecutor said Rodriguez and Contreras were out smoking marijuana when they spotted the two girls as they took a nighttime walk along a greenbelt running behind a residential neighborhood.

The boys accosted them, with Contreras holding a knife, and forced them to a more secluded area, using threats to make them stay quiet, she said.

According to the prosecutor, the defendants subjected them to “a brutal 30- to 40-minute series of sexual assaults that included every imaginable kind of rape.”

Patrick said graffiti found in the open space resulted in a tip that led investigators to Rodriguez, who told police what happened. Police then tracked down Contreras.