Anaheim's Rogelio Veloz is having a difficult time wrapping his mind around this painful concept: He'd spent most of his first 21 years in freedom, has been locked up for six consecutive years now and, at the age of 27, will never again eat at a restaurant, go to a movie, play a video game, date a girl, shop at the mall or drive a car.
From his home--a disgusting California prison, Veloz is begging judges to overturn his six felony convictions stemming from a ridiculously stupid March 2005 shooting.
He didn't fire a shot and says he didn't know that a buddy in the vehicle he drove was going to fire gunshots at people standing in an alley. It was never his intention to kill or harm anyone, he maintains.
And yet there's likely one huge problem why an August 2008 Orange County jury wasn't sympathetic and agreed with prosecutors that he was guilty of conspiracy, two counts of attempted murder, street terrorism, evading a cop and a gun possession charge: Veloz was a member of the criminal street gang Anaheim Vatos Locos (AVLS).
Veloz claims there is "insufficient evidence" to convict him and send him away on a punishment of life in prison plus 52 years.
He's asked a California Court of Appeal for help and got rejected.
Claiming his constitutional rights were violated, he then turned to federal judges. This month he got the bad news that they don't care about his complaints either.
On Jan. 2, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank signed a ruling that--when stripped away of legalese--basically said that if you're a gangster, associating with other gangsters and your group fires shots at people, you're life in freedom is done, even if you're only 21.
Cops appreciate gangsters tagging themselves
Upshot: Veloz will continue to ponder his life choices for many years inside High Desert State Prison in Susanville.
(Three other gangsters that were in the car with Veloz were also incarcerated in the case: Jose Rosario Acevedo, Freddie Noah Venagas and Gabriel Larry Venegas.)