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Hollister
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May 25, 2022

Azevedo gets three years

A San Benito County Superior Court judge sentenced the man
accused of killing a local man at the Hollister Community Center in
2001 to the maximum sentence allowed for a recent gun possession
charge Wednesday.
Hollister – A San Benito County Superior Court judge sentenced the man accused of killing a local man at the Hollister Community Center in 2001 to the maximum sentence allowed for a recent gun possession charge Wednesday.

Hollister resident Joseph Azevedo, 20, who was named as the shooter in the slaying of 38-year-old Jose Sanchez and spent one year in the San Benito County Jail after pleading to a charge of accessory after the fact, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading no contest to the felony possession charge. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Azevedo in December for having a loaded gun in a car he was a passenger in, according to police.

Azevedo, who was 17 when Sanchez was killed, was prohibited from having weapons as a condition of his probation and pleaded no contest to possession of the gun and violating his probation in January.

Azevedo’s attorney, Roseanne McLean, argued her client should receive the lightest sentence of 16 months, which Deputy District Attorney Candice Hooper argued against. Although Hooper did not argue for the maximum sentence and the probation department recommended a lesser sentence of two years, Judge Steven Sanders disregarded them all and sentenced Azevedo to the maximum time the charge allowed.

“Our office was very glad to see the judge sentence him to the max term,” said Deputy District Attorney Denny Wei. “We felt it was appropriate.”

McLean argued for the least amount of jail time because she believes Azevedo isn’t the “hard-core criminal” people have made him out to be. Sanders’ steep sentence left her speechless and hard pressed to justify the outcome to Azevedo and his mother, she said.

“He made a mistake as a juvenile and he has a right to not have that follow him around all his life. I didn’t think it was warranted and I don’t think he’s a bad kid,” she said. “I think he went the wrong direction at one point in time, but he was trying to clear his life up. He was salvageable.”

Hollister Police spokesman George Ramirez, who worked on the Sanchez case in 2001, was delighted to learn of Sanders’ decision and disagreed with McLean’s minimization of Azevedo’s prior actions.

“When someone loses their life I hardly think you can call it a mistake,” Ramirez said.

According to police, four years ago Azevedo shot Sanchez three times, killing him in an alley behind the Hollister Community Center located on the 300 block of West Street. Sanchez, who was standing in a crowd of people outside the building Azevedo shot at, died at the scene in front of his two small children, according to Ramirez.

After eluding police for 10 months, Azevedo was arrested and charged with murder, but District Attorney John Sarsfield decided to charge him as a minor and he was convicted in juvenile court for being an accessory after the fact. Azevedo, who could have faced life in prison if charged as an adult and convicted of murder, spent September of 2002 to August of 2003 behind bars, according to jail personnel.

The probation department concluded in its sentencing report that given the nature of Azevedo’s prior offense as a juvenile, the fact that the identified Norteno gang member was in possession of a gun that was not only loaded but also cocked and ready to fire was “very grave indeed,” according to the report.

While the probation report stated that a prison sentence would have a serious effect on Azevedo’s life, it concluded that “there is a likelihood that if not imprisoned, the defendant would be a danger to society.”

Erin Musgrave covers public safety for the Free Lance. Reach her at 637-5566, ext. 336 or [email protected]

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