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Willmar man resentenced for role in 2005 drive-by shootings

WILLMAR -- Jose Antonio Mercado, 24, of Willmar, was resentenced Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court to 110 months in prison for the July 2005 drive-by shootings in Willmar.

WILLMAR -- Jose Antonio Mercado, 24, of Willmar, was resentenced Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court to 110 months in prison for the July 2005 drive-by shootings in Willmar.

Judge Kathryn N. Smith handed down the sentence on a first-degree assault charge, with credit for 975 days already served in the Minnesota Correctional Facility at St. Cloud. She also ordered Mercado to use prison earnings to pay restitution of $21,147 to the victim of the drive-by, the owner of one of the damaged homes, an insurance company and the state reparations board. The restitution is owed by Mercado and three other defendants in the case.

Mercado is the second person to be resentenced in the case. Jose Armando Padilla, 27, of Granite Falls, was resentenced in November after the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed his December 2005 conviction for attempted second-degree murder by drive-by shooting. Padilla's new sentence was for 18 years in prison.

Based on that same ruling, the court vacated Mercado's December 2005 guilty plea and sentence for attempted second-degree murder by drive-by shooting and dangerous weapons - drive-by shooting and vacated the dismissal of two charges, for first-degree assault and dangerous weapon - drive-by shooting.

Last month, Mercado pleaded guilty to the first-degree assault and dangerous weapon - drive-by shooting charges. He also received a 36-month sentence on the dangerous weapon charge, which will be served concurrently with the 110-month sentence.

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Mercado's original sentence was for 166.5 months in prison.

According to testimony at trial, Padilla had an argument with Ruben Ybarra in early July and threatened to kill Ybarra and his family. A few days later, Padilla threatened him again, and Ybarra moved his family from Regency West to his father-in-law's home at 1410 Gorton Ave. N.W.

On July 22, Mercado and Padilla shot a 30-06 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun at a trailer home in Regency West Estates. The trailer home was empty. They, along with two accomplices, went to the home along Gorton Avenue, which contained at least nine people, including children. One woman was struck in the chest by a bullet. She survived. The shooters and accomplices were arrested without incident minutes after the second shooting.

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