‘Wicked man’ faces up to life in prison 

Calling him a "wicked man" who doesn’t deserve liberty, a San Mateo County judge sentenced a former jewelry store owner to 37 years to life in prison for masterminding a plot to have his employee kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed for spurning his romantic advances.

"You are one of the most depraved individuals I have ever had the misfortune of meeting in my 35 years on the bench," Judge Thomas Smith told Ricardo Zambrano, 38, before handing down the sentence Friday.

Zambrano, dressed in the red jail clothes reserved for violent offenders, spoke only to tell Smith he plans to appeal his sentence.

Authorities say the victim, a woman in her 20s, was carjacked and kidnapped at gunpoint in 2005 by Alfonzo Guevas Gonzalez, a 40-year-old man hired by Zambrano. Gonzalez drove the young woman to a home in Fresno, but the plot fell apart when he could not find his accomplices, according to prosecutors.

The victim escaped with the help of a woman who had knowledge of the plan; Gonzalez and Zambrano were arrested shortly afterward.

Gonzalez was sentenced to 35 years to life last year after a jury convicted him of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit rape, kidnapping and felony threats.

On Friday, the victim told the judge through a Spanish interpreter that she still fears for her family.

"Anything that happens to my family is because of him. He’s a very dangerous and bad person," she said.

Zambrano, a Fresno resident who owned a small jewelry store inside Mi Rancho Market in Menlo Park, faced two trials.

On April 13, 2007, the first jury found him guilty of conspiracy to commit rape, kidnapping by carjacking, threatening a witness, false imprisonment and the special allegations of using a firearm.

That jury deadlocked 11-1 on conspiracy to commit murder, however, and a mistrial was declared on the most serious charge.

Prosecutors re-tried Zambrano on the conspiracy to commit murder charge and on Nov. 16, 2007, a jury found him guilty.

Zambrano must also register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the victim.

tbarak@examiner.com

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