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Carlos Velasquez pleads to killing Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Abel Escalante Sentenced to Life Without Parole

LOS ANGELES — The man charged in the murder of off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Abel Escalante was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to all counts in connection with the 2008 killing, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen accepted the plea of Carlos Velasquez, 28, and sentenced Velasquez immediately. Velasquez pleaded guilty to the Aug. 2, 2008, first-degree murder of Escalante and to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In addition, Velasquez admitted the special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed by an active gang member and to further the criminal activities of a criminal street gang. Velasquez also admitted that he personally fired a handgun that killed the victim.

The deputy was gunned down outside his Cypress Park home as he was preparing to leave for his morning shift at Men’s Central Jail.

Deputy District Attorneys Phillip Stirling and John Colello of the Crimes Against Peace Officers Section (CAPOS) of the District Attorney’s Office handled the prosecution.

Prosecutors said Velasquez believed the victim was a rival gang member and shot him numerous times.

Velasquez was arrested on Dec. 12, 2008, following an extensive investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau.

The prosecution of co-defendants Jose Renteria, Armando Albarran, and Roberto Salazar is still pending.

Velasquez was also indicted in 2009 in federal court on multiple charges related to street gang activity. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California is prosecuting Velasquez and others for those offenses.

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