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  • Published Monday, March 12, 2007, at 7:44 a.m.

Joseph Otero II was the baby of the family, but he wasn't babied.

Known as Joey, he was rarely left alone by his four older siblings.

"Joey was the darling of the family," his brother Charlie remembers. "Everybody played with Joey, used him for judo practice. We'd make the dog drag him around the house. But it was all in love."

At age 9, Joey quickly became one of the most popular boys in his fourth-grade class at Adams Elementary.

He started the school year late, and the girls in his class immediately became enamored of him.

"He was good looking -- Hollywood good looking," said Charlie, six years Joey's senior. "He had all kinds of girlfriends already. He had droves of them following him around."

Joey was athletically talented as well. He could ride his brother's minibike. He excelled at judo. And he could run like the wind.

"He was going to grow up to be the fastest kid," Charlie said.

The family dog, Lucky, was a gift to Joey on his fifth birthday. Though the shepherd mix could be ferocious to strangers, Joey loved him.

"All we had to do was sic Lucky on Joey," Charlie said, "and he'd grab him by the pant leg and drag him all over the house."

-- Denise Neil

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