A Mendocino Coast boy who was just 14 when he was charged as an adult for murder was sentenced Friday to 10 years in a state juvenile correctional facility.
That's less time than Marcos Escareno, now 17, might have served had he been charged as a juvenile for slaying Enoc Cruz.
Escareno will be free by the time he's 24, a year earlier than the maximum age to which he could have been incarcerated as a juvenile.
Escareno's family was relieved by the sentence.
"Prayers do help," said his aunt, Debra Logan. At least a dozen family members attended the boy's hearing.
No one from the 22-year-old victim's family could attend the sentencing. Most of Cruz's family live in Mexico.
His uncle, Gustav Cruz, had urged the court to impose the longest possible sentence during the first phase of the hearing two weeks ago.
"Keep killers where they belong," he told Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ron Brown.
Escareno pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and using a gun to kill Cruz on the Manchester-Point Arena Rancheria in February 2007. He faced a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison for the plea. Had he been convicted of murder, Escareno would have faced 50 years to life in prison.
Brown said Friday that Escareno's age and lack of maturity were factors he considered in making his decision to hand down the mid-term sentence. The judge said he also considered the apparent pre-meditation of the slaying.