A little too late' for recover, judge suggests
Isaac Cruz of Storm Lake Monday was sentenced to a term not to exceed 10 years in the state penitentiary after violating a parole agreement.
Cruz received credit for 306 days already served. According to District Judge John P. Duffy, Cruz may be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence.
Duffy pointed out a number of extenuating circumstances as he handed down the sentence.
"There was a very brutal murder in Storm Lake, Iowa," Judge Duffy said before sentencing Cruz. "Mr. Cruz was one of the parties in this murder. You've received just about every break you could conceivably hope to get," Duffy said to Cruz.
"You were probably told more than once that you have to follow the terms and conditions of your probation," Duffy said. "You have been given every opportunity to get a chance in your adult life."
Cruz had been charged with first-degree murder for his part in the fatal stabbing of Jorge Ramos in 1999. That charge was plea bargained to second-degree burglary, a Class C felony, with a deferred judgment of sentence since Cruz agreed to testify against his friend René Zarate who was convicted of murder. Because he was then a juvenile, Cruz, now 19, was placed in detention.
Monday's sentencing hearing offered a history of Cruz's failure to meet the conditions of his probation and to seek in-patient alcohol treatment.
Part of the conditions of his deferred judgment was that Cruz abstain from alcohol, seek alcohol treatment, and find steady work or attend college. However, a string of alcohol-related charges and convictions over the past year led Judge Duffy to revoke Cruz's probation Sept. 1.
At the sentencing hearing, probation officer Kristin Johnson recounted that in July she had recommended that Cruz be placed in a residential treatment facility. However, after recent alcohol-related charges, the most recent on Aug. 29, Johnson said she had determined that residential treatment alone would not be adequate for Cruz.
Johnson recommended Monday that Cruz remain in jail until he could be placed in a residential treatment facility which could take up to three months.
"He has had a number of violations, more than most," Johnson said. He continued to have the same behaviors."
Johnson said Cruz "could be very dangerous to the community. I believe the record shows that he did not want to participate in probation."
Also testifying for the state Monday was Cruz's probation officer, Richard Detrick, who said he was assigned Cruz's case May 2, 1999 after Cruz was charged with first-degree murder. Detrick chronicled Cruz's transfers between the juvenile facilities in Cherokee, Eldora, and Clarinda.
When called to the stand, Cruz admitted he did not follow up on in-patient treatment because he did not believe it would reduce his chances of a prison sentence. Addressing his problem with alcohol, Cruz said, "It's been a problem. I realize I need to change that."
Buena Vista Assistant County Attorney Rick Kimball recommended that Cruz be sentenced to 10 years in the state penitentiary with credit for 306 days at the Clarinda facility. All told, Cruz spent a total of 616 days in detention as a juvenile, including the facilities in Cherokee and Eldora.
As far as Cruz's request that he receive in-patient treatment rather than a prison sentence, Duffy said, "It's a little late for that. So you're going to have to serve some time with the Department of Corrections, Mr. Cruz. I do not feel that you're a good candidate for probation."
Duffy sentenced Cruz to a term not to exceed 10 years. He remanded him to the custody of the Buena Vista County Sheriff before being transferred to the Oakdale assessment facility. Duffy also gave Cruz credit for 306 days served at Clarinda. "You may be eligible for parole before the sentence is discharged," Duffy told Cruz, saying his sentence could be reduced as much as half with good behavior.
You need to learn to follow the rules," Duffy told Cruz. "If you would have followed those rules that were put upon you in this case you would not be sitting here looking at 10 years."
Duffy set Cruz's appeal bond at $20,000.