It was a stunning offer to family members today, to hear the proposed plea deal set to be discussed before the next hearing in the case against the four young men who have been accused of robbing and assaulting a Woodland man in June of 2013.
During trial, James Nichols, the alleged victim in this case, stated on the stand that the “officers lied,” and that he never felt like a victim. He and his girlfriend, Dawn Beatty, testified that they could not see enough to describe much of the details. Beatty only mentioned a Mongolian-style hairdo on a man but couldn’t be sure of anything else.
Beatty, also in testimony, stated, “The cops planted a seed in my head.”
Justin Gonzalez, Jose Jimenez, Juan Fuentes and Anthony Ozuna are the four young Hispanic males accused of committing the offenses to further promote and benefit the criminal street gang, the “Norteños.”
Both Nichols and Beatty testified to being under the influence that night, leaving a lot to be desired in remembering details. Nichols stated he could not see much because he was fighting.
Mr. Pokeral, the clerk on duty the night of June 19, said on the stand that he was focused on the fight and could not see who was involved. Pokeral also testified that he never told Det. Ney he heard any of the defendants inside the 7-Eleven say a fight is going down, thus making the testimony of Ney questionable.
Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson argued that the alleged crimes were committed for the purpose of benefiting the street gang. Johnson argued that the court victims and/or witnesses are often reluctant to testify out of fear, intimidation or retaliation.
However, in trial, Nichols would contradict her belief stating, “I am not afraid… I got nothing to lose… I did not see them… and if I did I would say.”
Nichols repeated his allegations in both trials.
Deputy DA Johnson offered a plea deal today of 3.8 years if the defendants admit to Count 2, assault with bodily injury, waiving their right to appeal.
Counsels present, Keith Staten, Bob Spangler and Ava Landers, agreed to another hearing in two weeks to give time to discuss the plea with their clients. Attorney Jeff Raven was not present.
If the plea deal is not accepted, a third trial would be considered.
In the conclusion of the last trial, all four defendants were found guilty of a gang enhancement. However, according to Penal Code §186.22, the gang charge must accompany a felony conviction.
Only defendant Juan Fuentes has been convicted of the robbery charge.
On July 18 the case will continue. Families of all four defendants remain hopeful.