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AUSTIN EDITION sentencing Monday of the main perpetrator in a May 15 stabbing s

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

The sentencing Monday of the main perpetrator in a May 15 stabbing in downtown Austin concluded the multiple-defendant case.

Five people -- four boys who were juveniles at the time and a woman who was 18 -- all pleaded guilty to their roles in the stabbing and beating of a 17-year-old Austin boy outside of El Palacio de la Cumbia bar, 229 Third Ave. N.E.

On Monday, Manuel Junior Velez, an 18-year-old Albert Lea man, was sentenced in Mower District Court to serve 138 months, or 111⁄2; years, in prison for pleading guilty to felony first-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

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Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed charges that included first- and second-degree attempted murder.

Velez, who was 17 at the time of the assault, pleaded guilty in January, admitting he recruited three other boys to help him attack the teen. Velez, who was certified to stand trial as an adult in July, said he stabbed the boy six times in the back with a knife.

During his plea hearing, Velez said he planned the attack on the boy for something the boy allegedly did to Velez's girlfriend, Ashia Velarde of Austin.

Velarde, who's now 19, was sentenced in October after pleading guilty to a felony count of being an accessory after the fact to a first-degree assault. The judge delayed an 18-month prison sentence as long as Velarde cooperates with probation for 10 years. She had spent 104 days in jail.

Abraham Rodriguez, a 16-year-old from Carroll, Iowa, was sentenced in December to 86 months, or nearly seven years, in prison for felony aiding and abetting a first-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. He also was certified to stand trial as an adult and initially faced charges that included first- and second-degree attempted murder.

The other two boys, Jose Luis Martinez and Juan Raul Charles, 16-year-old cousins from Albert Lea, pleaded guilty in Mower District Juvenile Court to felony aiding and abetting first-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

Martinez and Charles, who each had faced charges of aiding and abetting attempted murder, both were sentenced to spend several months in juvenile detention centers. They each face nearly seven years in prison if they violate the terms of their juvenile probation.

The victim, who's now 18, attended the sentencing in late June for Charles but only said in court that Charles shouldn't be released prior to serving more time for what he did. The victim, who declined comment afterward, didn't appear at the sentencings for the other four defendants.

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On Monday, County Attorney Patrick Flanagan said his office has tried contacting the victim but hasn't heard back from him. The victim, he said, also never filed a restitution claim.

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