A 13-year-old boy whose stepfather repeatedly stabbed him and left him for dead in a South County field stood before a sentencing judge Thursday to remind his attacker he had failed.
"My stepfather didn't do what he wanted to do,
" said the boy, who was stabbed more than 20 times by Severino Perez because his mother was leaving the man. "I'm strong and I'm still alive."
His mother defiantly addressed her former husband and asked Judge Mark Hood to send Perez, 29, to prison for the rest of his life.
"I will make sure he becomes a good man," she said of her son through a Spanish-language interpreter. "If God allowed (my son) to survive this, it must be because someday he will do great things."
Abiding by a plea agreement, Hood sentenced Perez to 11 years to life in prison
for the premeditated attempted murder of the boy. Perez's brother, Domingo Perez, received six years
in prison for aiding and abetting the attempted murder.
On Thursday, he (the boy)
walked into a Salinas courtroom wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes and a green plastic bracelet around his wrist. He smiled shyly as investigators and victim advocates ushered him, hi
s mother and relatives into their seats. He beamed later as onlookers congratulated him for his courage.
Unlike his brother, Domingo Perez addressed the victim's family and court.
"Forgive me for everything I've done," he said through an interpreter. "We are all human beings, children of God, and I beg forgiveness for what my brother did."
Prosecutor Elaine McCleaf said Domingo Perez admitted to police that his brother told him he intended to "mess John Doe up," but given a chance to save the boy, he ran and said nothing when deputies found him walking on Highway 101.
She said Severino Perez showed complete callousness in stabbing the boy and leaving him to die in a field in the dark. When Perez called 911, she said, he asked for help getting his truck out of a ditch while the boy lay nearby with near-fatal injuries.
Hood said it was an understatement to call the crime "against an innocent, trusting child" callous and despicable.
"Words cannot reach the point of what you did that night. You victimized a child," he said. "But I'm very happy to see he will not be a victim all his life, that he will be stronger because of this.