Stepbrothers Robbie Blackwell and Nicholas Spangler have been convicted in the deaths of two teenagers gunned down in north Modesto after a violent confrontation outside a nearby store five years ago.
Rolando Luna, 15, and Andrew Ensey, 19, were among a group of males involved in the Feb. 10, 2012, confrontation with Blackwell outside a cigarette store on the night of the shooting. Blackwell left the store after being punched.
Luna and Ensey also left the store, walking with others to a nearby apartment complex in the 2400 block of Vera Cruz Drive near Floyd Avenue, where later they were hit by gunfire.
Luna was pronounced dead at the scene. Ensey died shortly after at a local hospital. Blackwell and Spangler were scheduled to stand trial this week; each defendant was charged with two counts of murder.
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Last week, Blackwell pleaded no contest to two counts of first-degree murder, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced in a news release Tuesday afternoon. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova sentenced Blackwell, 25, of Modesto, to 50 years to life in prison immediately after the defendant entered his new plea on Oct. 12.
In exchange for his no contest plea, prosecutors dropped gun enhancements added to the murder charges that would’ve lengthened Blackwell’s prison sentence.
On the same day his stepbrother was convicted and sentenced, Spangler was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in connection the deadly shooting. The murder charges against Spangler were dropped.
Judge Cordova sentenced Spangler, 32, of Ceres, to 12 years in prison. Spangler had a previous felony arson conviction.
The stepbrothers have been held at the county jail since their arrests a few days after the 2012 shooting.
Testimony in the defendants' 2013 preliminary hearing indicated that Blackwell went to his parents' home after he was punched outside the store. Then, he and Spangler left the family's home before gunfire erupted about 9:15 p.m. several blocks away on Vera Cruz Drive.
Witnesses have testified that the gunfire came from a white car, possibly a Lexus. One witness testified that he saw Blackwell firing a gun from the car's back seat as the vehicle drove by Luna, Ensey and the group of males.
Prosecutors said Spangler was driving the car, and Blackwell fired a 9 mm. handgun multiple times at the group, which included Luna and Ensey.
Nanci Sue Blackwell, the defendants' mother, in November 2013 pleaded no contest to being an accessory and dissuading a witness in her sons' case. She was released from custody after serving her sentence in the county jail.
Authorities said the mother tried to prevent a witness from giving investigators information regarding the alleged crime.. The accessory charge stemmed from harboring, concealing or aiding a felony suspect to avoid capture.