One of three men accused in the robbery and murder in Canyon Country pleaded no contest and was sentenced Wednesday, officials said.
Branden Higgs, 20, of Canyon Country, pleaded guilty to five charges in connection with the shooting charges death of Alejandro Sanchez Torres in the Santa Clara River wash behind Art’s Liquor off Soledad Canyon Road on Halloween 2011.
He received a sentence of 16 years and eight months in state prison, according to a court official.
Judge David Gelfound ordered a retrial for Higgs last year, after the jury voted 7-5 on most of the charges, in favor of not guilty.
He pre-empted an additional trial with his plea Wednesday. The District Attorney’s Office did not have any additional information about the nature of the plea as of this story’s publication.
One of Higgs’ two co-defendants, Eric Edwards, of Canyon Country, 20, was sentenced to 30 to life, plus four consecutive life terms last week, said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. A jury found him guilty on nearly all counts in October.
The third co-defendant, Diamonte McGhee, is expected to be sentenced in May.
The three were charged with the murder of Sanchez-Torres, who tried to help Ricardo Sandoval while Sandoval was being robbed.
Sandoval — who was trying to buy marijuana from the then-teens, and sell them a Nintendo DS before the robbery took place — was not in court Thursday.
Sanchez-Torres, who was killed during the robbery, had only met Sandoval moments prior to his death, when Sandoval gave the man 35 cents, after Sanchez-Torres asked if he had any money.
Sanchez-Torres was with his then-7-year-old son when he saw Sandoval getting beat up and tried to intervene in the wash behind Art’s Liquor in Canyon Country, according to testimony in court.
The jury foreman said jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked” on the counts against Higgs, and that no amount of instruction or deliberation would likely change the outcome.