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Jose Alejandro, 21, of Elkhart, lost his familiar smile on May 24, 2013, as Elkhart Circuit Court Judge Terry Shewmaker committed him to the Indiana Department of Correction for the next 100 years. During the State’s sentencing argument highlighting the extensive amount of aggravating factors in the case, Alejandro looked directly at the prosecutor with the same smile he had previously displayed to the jury and several of the witnesses during the trial. Alejandro addressed the court, arguing he had potential to be better in the future, notwithstanding his violent character. The judge noted that, he too, had observed Alejandro’s behavior and conduct during various court proceedings. That attitude, coupled with the delinquent behavior that Alejandro had been exhibiting since age nine (9), the illegal use of alcohol and drugs, all of the opportunities that prior juvenile court interventions had attempted, and the violent and callous behavior which was the subject of the case, illustrated the need to remove Alejandro from the community for an extensive period of time.
Alejandro was convicted in less than one hour by an Elkhart County jury in April after evidence was presented showing he forced Flavio Contreras, 20, from his Elkhart home in the late evening hours of May 23, 2012, by threatening to kill Contreras in front of his family with a handgun concealed behind his back. Contreras’ family observed Flavio’s expressions change from happy and content, to worry and fear, as Alejandro promised them Flavio would return in half an hour. Hours later, Flavio’s mother called Alejandro, begging for information as to her son’s whereabouts. Alejandro only told her that Flavio had “misbehaved” and lied to her about what had occurred that night. However, miles away, Flavio Contreras lay bleeding to death in a ditch on County Road 19, northwest of Bristol, after being shot numerous times by a gang associate of Alejandro, with the gun Alejandro had used to force Contreras from his home.
At the trial, Contreras testified that Alejandro had been a friend of his family before associating himself with the Latin Kings gang. An acquaintance of Contreras had posted an insult aimed at the Latin Kings on the social networking site, Facebook, which appeared to have motivated retaliatory behavior on the part of Alejandro. Being unable to find the instigator, Alejandro and other Latin Kings drove Contreras around attempting to force Contreras to assist in locating him to allow for retaliation; however, Contreras refused. Upon stopping in a remote area on County Road 19, Alejandro passed his handgun to another Latin King, directing that Contreras be shot. After shooting Contreras twice in the head, once in the arm, once in the hand, and once in the back, Alejandro and his associates then kicked and beat Contreras, then left him to die.
A passerby found Contreras in the early morning hours of May 24, 2012, and contacted authorities who rushed him to Elkhart General Hospital for emergency medical treatment. Contreras suffered extensive injuries and spent weeks in hospitals recovering.
Alejandro was charged with Attempted Murder, a Class A felony, as well as the Criminal Gang Sentencing Enhancement, which requires the sentence on the underlying crime to be doubled. Plea negotiations were unsuccessful and Alejandro was tried by a jury the week of April 22, 2013.
Alejandro’s sentencing hearing was held on May 23, 2013. While his prior patterns of delinquency, his selfish behaviors, his lack of respect for the laws of the State of Indiana, and his lack of remorse for the victim were documented by the court as aggravating factors, Alejandro began to look at the table, then toward the wall, then off to the side, as his smile faded and he appeared to finally realize that his own actions had brought about his dim future. Exactly one year after attempting to take the life of Flavio Contreras on May 23, 2012, Jose Alejandro was sentenced to spend most of the rest of his in prison. Alejandro intends to file an appeal.