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Teens sentenced to decades behind bars for Rancho Penasquitos rapes

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two teenage boys who kidnapped and sexually assaulted two girls in a Rancho Penasquitos park were sentenced Thursday to 58- and 50-years-to-life prison terms.

Leonel Contreras, 18, was sentenced to the lengthier term. He and co-defendant William Steven Rodriguez, 17, were both 16 at the time of the Sept. 3, 2011, attack. They were tried as adults and convicted by separate juries last year.

Rodriguez was found guilty of 10 of 21 charges, including forcible oral copulation and forcible sodomy. Contreras was convicted on 21 counts, including conspiracy, rape and kidnapping and the use of a knife.

Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick told Judge Peter Deddeh that the defendants kidnapped the 15- and 16-year-old victims as they walked along a greenbelt behind a residential neighborhood about 8 p.m.

Patrick said the defendants took the girls -- who were both virgins -- to a secluded area and subjected them to multiple sex acts over 30 to 40 minutes.

"It was a prolonged, brutal sexual assault," the prosecutor said.

Deddeh said it was "awful and shocking" at how long the assault lasted.

"You robbed them (the victims) of their spirit," the judge told Rodriguez.

Deddeh chastised Contreras -- who he called the "shot caller" -- as being in denial and not owning up to what he did.

"It was brutal, callous and ruthless," Deddeh said of the attack, during which the defendants switched partners.

Deddeh said he would have given Contreras a more than 600-years-to-life sentence if he could have, but was precluded from doing so because Contreras was a juvenile at the time of the offense.

Patrick read a letter from the parents of Jane Doe 2, detailing the victim's struggles since the attack.

The defendants stole "something they had no right to take," the parents said in the letter.

Jane Doe 2 had constant nightmares but "has chosen not to live as a victim" and to "work toward healing," the letter read.

To the mothers of the defendants, the victim's parents said, "Our hearts break for you."

In her closing argument, Patrick told jurors the defendants had a plan to assault the girls and Contreras told Rodriguez that he had a knife.

But Rodriguez's attorney, Dana Feuling, said there was no conspiracy between the defendants and that her client acted on "impulse." She said Rodriguez cooperated after his arrest and admitted what he did.

Contreras' attorney, Michael Begovich, told the jury that police coerced a false confession from his client and prosecutors lacked evidence tying the defendant to the crime.

Patrick said the victims were friends who went to a family party in the 12600 block of Spindletop Road. Rodriguez and Contreras were out smoking marijuana when they spotted the two girls as they took a nighttime walk, the prosecutor said.

The boys accosted them, with Contreras holding a knife, and forced them to a more secluded area, using threats to make them stay quiet, she said.

According to the prosecutor, the defendants subjected them to "a brutal 30- to 40-minute series of sexual assaults that included every imaginable kind of rape."

Patrick said graffiti found in the open space resulted in a tip that led investigators to Rodriguez, who told police what happened. Police then tracked down Contreras.

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