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Gang Members Get 13 Years For Machete Attack

MERCED - Two Merced gang members received 13-year prison sentences each on Friday for their roles in attacking a teenager with a machete earlier this year.

Isaac Sanchez Jr., 18, and Uriel Soto, 20, cut a package deal with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office to avoid longer prison terms, officials in the case said.

Sanchez pleaded no contest to an assault charge and admitted a gang enhancement. Soto pleaded no contest to a felony child abuse charge and admitted an enhancement for causing major injuries, Deputy District Attorney Allen Turner said.

Both men were arrested earlier this year in connection with attacking a 17-year-old boy on April 18 in the 1100 block of West 13th Street.

Investigators said the teen, whose name is being withheld due to the gang ties in the case, was pumping gas at a Shell station when he was confronted by as many as four gang members. An argument broke out and the teen fled on foot, with one of the gang members in pursuit, Merced police said.

The victim was chased down and cut multiple times in front of the Denny’s restaurant on West 13th Street. He was found in the diner’s restroom, bleeding from his head and with deep lacerations on both arms, investigators said.

Prosecutors believe Sanchez was “most likely” the man who cut the victim with the machete.

The teenager initially feared he had been shot and did not immediately realize he had been attacked with a machete instead of a firearm, authorities said. He was taken to a Modesto-area hospital and has since recovered from his injuries, authorities said.

Judge Ronald W. Hansen accepted the plea deals Friday morning in Merced County Superior Court.

Soto and Sanchez each must serve more than 11 years, at least, before they are eligible for their first parole hearings, Turner said.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum said his client, Sanchez, had been facing 25 years to life in prison before taking the deal. “My client wishes to put this behind him and move on with his life,” Tenenbaum said Friday.

Turner said the victim and his family were relieved to have the case settled without a trial.

“I’m happy to have been able to stop their (the defendants’) behavior for many years and happy we were able to insulate the victim and his family from having to testify,” Turner said. “I think it was a good outcome and those two (defendants) are where they need to be now.”

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