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A former York City man who was 14 years old when he and his friends bludgeoned a man to death with rocks and tree limbs must serve five more years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Wilfredo Alex Caballero, now 44, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1990 after being convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of 49-year-old Jose Cosme.

But his punishment was called into question in 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to automatically sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole.

A life sentence can still be handed down to a juvenile, SCOTUS ruled, but it cannot be an automatic sentence.

In Pennsylvania, people convicted of first- and second-degree murder receive automatic life sentences without the possibility of parole. So juveniles who were automatically sentenced to life in prison, including Caballero, are entitled to resentencing hearings. 

There are 11 such "juvenile lifers" in York County and about 460 across the state.

New sentence: On Tuesday, Nov. 21, presiding Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder resentenced Caballero to a minimum of 33 years, 10 months and 12 days in prison and a maximum of life in prison, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

The new sentence means Caballero will be eligible for parole in five years, King said.

After five years, it will be up to the state parole board to decide when, or if, Caballero will be released.

If he eventually is released from prison, he will remain on supervised parole for the rest of his life, King said.

Cosme, of East Philadelphia Street in York City, was murdered Aug. 28, 1988, by Caballero and three others.

He was bludgeoned with rocks and tree limbs and kicked all over his body, according to police, who said Cosme was found dead along railroad tracks behind a car dealership on Eden Road in Springettsbury Township.

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Robbed of cash: Police say the teens robbed Cosme of cash and other items during the attack.

Co-defendant Jose Vega, who was 16 years old at the time of the homicide, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and robbery. He was sentenced to 6½ to 15 years in prison.

In exchange for his plea deal, Vega testified against his co-defendants — Caballero, Eddie Guardarrama and Eric Nuñez.

Nuñez and Guardarrama, both originally of New Jersey, are half-brothers, and Caballero is their cousin, officials have said.

At trial, Guardarrama was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and robbery; he received three to six years in prison. Nuñez was found guilty of third-degree murder and robbery and was sentenced to four to eight years in prison.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

 

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Editor's note: This article was updated on Nov. 27, 2017, to correct the age of Wilfredo Caballero at the time of the murder.

 

 

 

 

 

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