Salinas men accept plea deals in 2010 robberies, death

Mi Ranchito Market was the first of two businesses robbed.

Two Salinas men charged with robbing two Hollister stores and leading police on a chase that ended with the death of another suspected assailant have accepted plea deals with expected, respective prison terms of 15 and 20 years, according to court records.

Roberto Silva, 21, and Omar Medrano, 20, were charged by San Benito County prosecutors in the case stemming from the April 2010 robbery and chase.

A third suspect was charged as a juvenile and was assigned to Monterey County’s juvenile court system.

The fourth suspect, Jesus Hernandez, 18, died at the scene.

For Silva and Medrano, prosecutors alleged felony counts of murder, robbery, use of a firearm and participating in a street gang, along with enhancements.

Silva and Medrano last week waived their rights to preliminary hearings and pleaded no contest to related charges.

Silva’s prison sentence is expected to be 15 years, with Medrano’s at 20 years. Silva’s sentence hearing is set for 9 a.m. July 26 at the county courthouse. Medrano’s sentence hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. July 27.

The initial homicide charges for each were dropped in the plea arrangement, while Silva’s convictions include a vehicular manslaughter charge.

The brunt of each expected sentence – 10 years for both men – is due to Silva and Medrano admitting to a charge they committed violent felonies in accordance with their membership in a street gang.

Medrano is represented by Art Cantu. Public defender Greg LaForge is handling the Silva case. District Attorney Candice Hooper oversaw the prosecution.

They pleaded no contest to robbing nearly $1,000 at gunpoint from Mi Ranchito Market and an undisclosed amount from 156 Plaza Gas Station before fleeing toward Salinas on Highway 156. The suspects were flashing gang signs at officers during the chase that exceeded more than 100 mph, police alleged.

It ended in downtown Salinas where the driver of the black Honda lost control of the vehicle and slammed it into a building, parked vehicle and a street sign. The fourth suspect, Hernandez, was ejected out of the backseat of the vehicle and died on impact with the building, according to the police report.

The suspects remain at the San Benito County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

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