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Strike two for Turlock brothers convicted of killing rapper
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Convictions for a carjacking and an assault with a firearm will be considered as strikes for the two Turlock brothers when they are sentenced for the murder of a 26-year-old rising rapper at a barbecue.

On Wednesday Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff ruled the prior convictions against Alvaro Saldana and Ray Gutierrez Jr. can be counted against them when their sentence hearing is held May 31.

Saldana has a conviction for carjacking from 2004 and Gutierrez was convicted of assault with a firearm in 1999. Gutierrez also has at least three other charges pending against him for possession with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, battery on a spouse and possession of a controlled substance while in jail, according to court records.

The two brothers were found guilty by a jury on Tuesday of first-degree premeditated murder with firearm and gang enhancements. The two enhancements along with the strikes could mean the two men could be facing 80 years to life in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Thomas Brennan, who prosecuted the case against the two men.

At Wednesday’s hearing both Saldana and Gutierrez waived their rights to a speedy sentencing. Legally, they each have the right to be sentenced within 19 days of the verdict, but both waived time in order to give the defense more time to prepare for the sentence hearing.

Brennan said he plans on providing a few victim impact statements at the hearing.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.