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Plea Deal Offered In Gang Case Stuns Family Members

Gangby Antoinette Borbon

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.

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  1. Is this a case of “cash for convictions”?

    • David Greenwald

      From what was explained to me the problem is without the assault charge, the gang charges can’t stand up by themselves. Now the DA may be overplaying their hand here, because it’s not clear they can get a conviction on the assault charges.

  2. Yes D.D., I can’t believe how the DAs office is getting away with this!!. And because they STILL can’t prove the assault or robbery, they want to trap them with a ridiculous plea offer of close to 4 years in prison with NO APPEAL by accepting the assault?!. NO WAY!!! It is a trap and the only thing the DA is doing is pressuring them into thinking this is the this is the only way out. This was such a weak case to begin with and the DA knew it. The gang enhancement alone cannot fly…it is illegal and I hope these young men dont accept the plea.

  3. Soda, what type of evidence are you requesting?!

  4. Just an explanation for the title. It did not seem to flow for me; I kept looking for ‘evidence’ that the family was stunned; do you see it; did I miss it? I am not against the premise that the plea deal is unfair and your explanation was clearer to me, just at first reading it did not follow for me… I clearer?

  5. @Soda…..

    Family members have every right to express. their feelings and or concerns to the Vanguard. At this point, it just may be a huge part of their. hope….

    I’m not bound as the DA is to prove my case. in regards to their. concern.

    As long as the boundaries with client attorney. confidentiality. are not crossed..there is nothing harmful. in letting. them vent and them allowing me to speak on th eir behalf via my articles.

    @Hope….I commend your bravery and continue to pray for righteous justice in this case.

    In my research..some of the state’s best criminal. defense. attorneys have said,”prosecutors may be seeking to use the law illegally.” In a case such as this, there may be “no interest in justice ,” also stated by some experts in the field with regard to gang cases and the defense. thereof.

    @ D.D. “Cash for convictions,” could be fueling this..true

  6. Antoinette. ..I believe soda wanted to know where in this article is the evidence proving “family were stunned” as per your title in this article.

    Paint a picture with words as to how family were stunned about the plea deal for ones that were not in the courtroom throughout the trial and verdict.

    @soda….I see both sides (negative and positive) to what you asked Antoinette. Is it that you are shocked that Antoinette titled it “family stunned” or are you really asking for descriptive reaction?

  7. Thanks ‘hope’ for asking for clarification.
    Yes, I am only asking for information from the courtroom or interviews with the family that would tell me, the reader, their feelings and why they felt the way the title stated: no judgment on my part, just interest.
    The title sparked my interest enought to read the article. Without having been there or have followed the case, I was not informed and reading the article was my attempt to become informed!
    After reading it, I was confused because I didn’t see anything about the family, so I went back and read more slowly, then wrote my comment which was only meant to be a clarifying question. I regret using the word evidence since I can see why that could have been misinterpreted, but hope my intent is clearer now.

  8. @Soda…yes, perfectly. understood. I’m limited. to what I can say in articles. but the concern is expressed. by some in person and via courtroom .

    But it’s best to leave. it at that for now since it is a pending. case.

    @ Thank you Hope…for responding.

    I was not trying. to be short…lol.

  9. Soda, im glad this article sparked interest in wanting to know more about this case. No one can expect to read one particular article in any case and not want to back track to where it all started. I recommend if you are still interested in knowing more about this case….go back to the very first trial. In the end….you will, like others, may have questions. I would definitely like to hear some feed back…..

  10. Yes…..I encourage. you to read them also and give feedback.

    No interest of justice in this case so far..

    But fortitude and effort coupled with trust in GOD…can turn things around ..

  11. Thank you for the details regarding this case. I have such mixed feelings. It sort of reminds me of a modern day version of the movie, “A Bronx Tale”. Robert Deniro’s character is a law abiding citizen, yet he still advises his young son not to be a witness to a gang crime.
    The D.A. wants to prosecute dangerous people, the cops want to arrest them. But neither can keep us safe if the dangerous folks come after us for cooperating with law enforcement. Both know that, yet they still arrest, and they still try to prosecute.
    Cash for convictions probably started out as an honorable idea, just like Megan’s List was born from good intentions: to protect law abiding citizens from dangerous people.
    Unfortunately, neither works.

  12. P.S. in the movie, in case you haven’t seen it, the father advises his young son not to cooperate with the cops after the boy witnesses a crime.

  13. D.D. what sort of mixed feelings?.

    • Mixed feelings re: did te D.A. have enough evidence to even bring this matter to a trial? Is it a case of, the police apprehended the correct youths, or is a case of, lazy police work and any Mexican will do, just arrest someone, for crying out loud? Did they even arrest the right people?
      My family member was wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit. He spent time in county for a crime he did not commit. He was pressured into pea bargaining to a crime he did not commit…
      So, I have mixed feelings.

  14. For anyone in this panel following the comments…I highly recommend the movie classic “12 angry men”.

  15. I’m going to watch that..Hope..and I believe. I saw parts of the other movie..DD.

    I’m feeling a lot of hope today for thes:)e boys…can’t. really explain it other than coming from a whole lot of prayer from a lot of our brethren …

    It will all work out…

  16. On behalf of our son Justin Gonzalez, my husband ,myself and our family would like to thank Davis Vanguard and especially Antoinnette for your diligent work in covering this case. Thank you for shining a light and exposing truths that without your voice would otherwise go unnoticed by the common public. Your articles give us fortitude and help us to renew our faith, enabling us to keep fighting the good fight. Also the comments from all of the readers are encouraging as well, It’s good to know that we are not in this alone.

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