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Last defendant pleads guilty in 2006 rape case

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Four others previously sentenced for charges relating to abuse of two girls

By Preston Knight-pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- The last of five co-defendants in the 2006 gang rapes of two teen girls pleaded guilty to three charges Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.

Harold Brian Guanilo-Cueva, 24, formerly of Arlington, entered Alford pleas of guilty to rape, aggravated sexual battery and gang participation as part of a plea agreement. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not make an outright admission of guilt, but acknowledges that the prosecution may have enough evidence to win a conviction.

A four-day trial had been set to begin at the end of this month, but Wednesday's hearing canceled that. The plea deal, however, had no agreement on punishment, so
Guanilo-Cueva, also known as "Criminal," is to be sentenced May 4. He has been incarcerated since March 2008 on a separate matter.

Special prosecutor Phil Figura said Guanilo-Cueva attended a meeting of the South Side Locos at the Jadwyn Road residence of co-defendant Alex Vigil in November 2006. A party followed, and the two 15-year-old girls arrived. They were provided a number of alcoholic drinks, became unconscious and sick, and were then taken to a bedroom by another girl and cleaned up, Figura said.

At some point, one of the girls was taken outside to a van, almost being dragged, by co-defendant Antonio Mendoza, he said. While offenses occurred against the girl, Guanilo-Cueva was seen outside of the van, Figura said, and later observed going into it and the van could be seen rocking. He said gang signs were flashed and chants made while the girl was assaulted in the vehicle.

An original charge of rape was amended to aggravated sexual battery Wednesday because the girl's injuries could not be attributed to Guanilo-Cueva and there was no visible sign of penetration, Figura said.

That girl was taken back inside, and Guanilo-Cueva was then seen by co-defendant Ryan Williams having sex with the other victim, who was unconscious. DNA evidence linked the defendant to the rape of this girl, Figura said, and Guanilo-Cueva made statements recently to a Shenandoah County Jail inmate that he did what he was charged with and was holding out for a better deal.

Along with four others, he was indicted by a multi-jurisdictional grand jury in Staunton last year. Guanilo-Cueva's case, after legal wrangling between defense attorney Daniel Lopez and Figura, later involved the two Staunton charges getting dropped and brought back before a Shenandoah County grand jury, which had already indicted him on a third charge.

Lopez contested several of Figura's statements Wednesday. He said DNA obtained in the rape charge was found on the girl's jeans, outside of her body, and that the statement made to the "jailhouse snitch" never happened.

Guanilo-Cueva is the last of the five to be sentenced. Vigil, 25, was sentenced to 100 years in prison, with 20 to serve, for two rapes and one conviction each of gang participation and forcible sodomy. Mendoza, 22, was sentenced to serve eight years in prison for aggravated sexual battery and gang participation.

Williams, 24, of Alexandria, entered Alford pleas of guilty to rape, sodomy and gang participation, and as part of a plea agreement was sentenced to 50 years in prison, with 18 years to serve. Luis A. Hernandez Callejas, 21, pleaded guilty to one count each of rape and gang participation, receiving 50 years in prison, with all but 13 years and eight months suspended. Formal sentencing for he and Williams, however, is not scheduled until April 13.

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