Man pleads guilty to buying rifles in San Bernardino attack

Friday, February 17, 2017

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- A California man who bought high-powered rifles used in the San Bernardino terror attack pleaded guilty Thursday as the father of one of the victims angrily denounced the plea deal as a "slap on the wrist."

Enrique Marquez Jr. appeared in federal court in Riverside with his hands cuffed and chained to his waist. He sounded choked up after the prosecutor described what he had done.

Marquez told the judge he had dropped out of high school and college but understood the allegations and the consequences of the plea agreement with prosecutors that could bring him up to 25 years in prison while sparing him a trial.

Gregory Clayborn, the father of one of the people killed, opposed the deal in an impassioned plea to the judge before the hearing.

"This man supplied these murderers with these weapons, and he's going to get a slap on the wrist,Your Honor," Clayborn said, his voice cracking as he described the pain of losing his 27-year-old daughter, Sierra.

"My daughter, she didn't deserve this," he said.

Marquez was the only person criminally charged in the December 2015 attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a meeting of San Bernardino County employees.

Husband-and-wife assailants Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were killed in a shootout with authorities later that day.

Marquez is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 21 by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal.

In addition to purchasing the weapons, Marquez pleaded guilty to conspiring with Farook to draft earlier mass killing plots targeting a community college and a gridlocked Southern California freeway.

Authorities said the pair researched bomb-making and bought materials to make explosives but never carried out those attacks.

In court Thursday, relatives of victims in the San Bernardino attack were given tissue boxes ahead of the brief hearing. While Marquez was questioned, one sobbed. Another closed her eyes.

Afterward, Clayborn told reporters he believes Marquez knew about the San Bernardino attack.

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