Get out your hankies, folks. The L.A. Times is about to start your tears flowing with another sad tale. This time, it’s about our oppressive federal Government seeking to deport a man whose only crime was shooting a rival gang member in an attempt to kill him.
Well, not his only crime. But you know what I mean.
Obed, as his friends know him, is a convicted felon. He used to be a gang member, and during that time, he stubbornly placed himself in the path of danger too many times to count. For many years now, he’s been in a wheelchair — a constant reminder of poor decisions deep in his past.
“One thing that I have in common with Don Quixote is that there’s always a price to pay,” he said once he thought about it. More than a decade ago, Obed was shot and paralyzed while stealing beer from a convenience store in Stanton. A few months later, he opened fire from his wheelchair and wounded a gang rival. His teenage behavior was so reckless, “he should be dead,” says Victor Cueto, his Santa Ana attorney and friend.
I’ll bet $20 that what the L.A. Times describes as “stealing” beer was an armed robbery. First, how many store owners respond to a beer run by opening fire on the unarmed thief? Second, the sentence Obed faced for his attempted murder is consistent with his having a strike prior — like, say, a robbery.
The Orange County district attorney’s office charged him with attempted murder. With several enhancements for being a gang member and using a firearm, he faced a sentence of 50 years or longer.
Not knowing the particulars of his case, I’m not sure how exactly how you get to 50 years or longer — but having a strike prior would double most aspects of his sentence, which would get him closer to 50 years a lot faster.
But never mind all that. He’s now a scholar:
Instead, Obed, who turns 30 today, chose to reinvent himself. He found redemption in the glory of book learning. In November, he earned his master’s degree in English at Cal State L.A.
“He has the wisdom and maturity of a natural scholar,” said Michael Calabrese, a professor of medieval English at Cal State L.A. “He’s destined to be a professor one day.”
It’s a destiny that could be derailed in a federal courthouse next week. On Monday, Obed will face an immigration judge who will decide whether he should be deported to Mexico, the country he left as a baby, for shooting his rival, a crime he committed when he was a teenager.
By teenager, the author means “adult.” We’re told later in the piece that Obed’s attempted murder case occurred in 1998. He just turned 30. Do the math.
Obed’s not an illegal immigrant; he’s a green card holder. But he can be deported for his crime. And he should be. Maybe he is really is a former gang member, and maybe he’s not. (We’ve heard the “former gang member” thing from this newspaper before and had it turn out to be false.) Let’s let Mexico roll the dice on that one.
This guy is lucky that he’s not serving a life sentence for his shooting. He got his break. I’m putting my hanky away.