A gang member was sentenced to 18 years to life in state prison for his premeditated attempted murder conviction for attacking a fellow inmate and gang associate with jail-issue razor blades at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin five years ago.

Ismael Contreras, 34, and fellow gang member Ronnie Padilla, 28, were both convicted last July for the Oct. 3, 2006, attack on the gang associate, who is now 30. Padilla is scheduled to be sentenced April 27.

Padilla and Contreras were additionally convicted of acting to further the interest of a criminal gang, which is an enhancement clause that will increase the length of their prison terms. Jurors convicted Padilla of nine gang enhancement clauses and Contreras of one such clause.

Padilla was also convicted of five counts of assault with a firearm, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and other charges for attacking various people in Oakland on Nov. 12, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2005.

The additional convictions against Padilla are shooting at an occupied vehicle, permitting another person to shoot at a vehicle, discharging a firearm with gross negligence, kidnapping for ransom and making a criminal threat.

Padilla was also convicted of possessing a weapon in jail for having a plastic shard, which apparently was fashioned from a fragment from a plastic chair, in his cell in 2008.

Prosecutor Steve Dal Porto said today that Padilla could get a state prison term of 60 years to life in state prison when he's sentenced next month.


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Dal Porto said Contreras and Padilla attacked the other inmate because they thought the other man was planning to leave their gang, as he had had some gang tattoos removed and had taken other steps to possibly move away from the gang.

However, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Casey Bates, who prosecuted that gang member in an unrelated murder case, said he thinks the attack stemmed from a power struggle within the gang and he does not think the gang member was really trying to quit gang life.

The gang member who was targeted in the Santa Rita incident and another gang colleague were convicted in September 2010 of first-degree murder for the shooting death of 14-year-old Ricardo Cortez Jr. in the 1700 block of 47th Avenue in Oakland on Aug. 21, 2009, in what Bates believed was a case of mistaken identity in which a rival gang member was the intended target.

Cortez was not a gang member and was simply playing tag with two friends when he was killed, Bates said.

The gang member was sentenced to 27 years to life and his associate was sentenced to 50 years to life.

Dal Porto asked that the gang member's name not be used because his life could be in danger due to his decision to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Contreras and Padilla. The gang member is being held in administrative segregation to protect him.

The prosecutor said Contreras and Padilla and several other gang members attacked the gang member victim during a period when inmates were permitted to leave their cells to socialize.

Dal Porto said Contreras slashed an area from the victim's ear to his throat and Padilla slashed the man's forehead.

The victim was injured so badly he thought he would die and gave "a dying declaration" to deputies who responded to the attack but he ultimately recovered from his injuries, Dal Porto said.

Contreras and Padilla used blades they fashioned from razors that jail officials are required by law to include in the hygiene kits they give to inmates, Dal Porto said.

Contreras' lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said after the jury's verdict last July that he asked jurors only to convict Contreras of assault and he thought "they made a pretty far jump" to conclude that the attack on the gang victim in the jail was premeditated.

Stallworth said Contreras was drunk from a prison wine he had made from fermented fruit and did not even remember the attack.

Stallworth said there was no physical evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA, to prove that Contreras premeditated the attack.



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