Gun Enhancement Change Potentially Saves Defendant 25 Years to Life

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By Kelsey Kitzke

SACRAMENTO – Both sides of the aisle won and lost here last Friday at the sentencing hearing for attempted robbery and attempted murder for two defendants at Sacramento County Superior Court.

Two men, convicted of attempted robbery and attempted murder, received prison sentences of between four to seven years. But the prosecution wanted much more.

The trial court found Jonathan Rivera and Andreas Buford were guilty of attempted murder and attempted robbery when they decided to attempt to rob the victim while the victim stood outside in the line of a local taco restaurant.

After confronting the victim, according to the narrative, Rivera returned to his car and retrieved a gun which he then used to shoot the victim twice, once in the stomach and once in the thigh. For his part, Buford was said to have pointed the victim out to Rivera before the attempted robbery and shooting.

Rivera’s case was decided first. Through virtual proceedings, private defense counsel Jesse Ortiz and the prosecution, Deputy District Attorney Sydne Jones, each laid out their sentencing arguments to Judge Delbert Oros.

On behalf of his client, Ortiz referenced school records and letters of support for Rivera, arguing that the crime his client had committed was a youthful mistake and therefore he should receive a more lenient sentence.

Countering, DDA Jones referred to defendant Rivera’s prior history of possessing and firing guns and argued that the fact that Rivera purposefully returned to his car to retrieve a gun points to intent to cause harm to the victim. She recommended the upper limit of sentencing guidelines because of the violent nature of the crime.

She also argued that Judge Oros should use his discretion to apply the gun enhancement, which would add 25 years to life to the sentence of Rivera because he used a firearm to cause “great bodily injury” in commission of felony. Previously, the gun enhancement had been a mandatory requirement of sentencing. However, a 2017 California law changed the law to give courts discretion of the use of the gun enhancement in sentencing.

After hearing both attorneys’ arguments, Judge Oros ordered Mr. Rivera be sentenced to seven years in state prison (the middle level sentencing term) for the attempted murder charge and an additional eight months for a separate count of possession of a firearm charge.

The court stayed the 25-year gun enhancement, but noted that if Rivera violated the conditions of the court, he would add those decades in jail.

Later in the day, the co-defendant Buford faced sentencing for the attempted robbery charge with the possibility of additional sentencing under the gun enhancement. Buford’s attorney, Issac Choy, argued that Buford should not face any jail time and instead should be put under probation because he was not a primary actor in the incident. Choy also pointed to the responsibilities Buford had to his family of soon-to-be three children and asked of the court “what justice does incarceration serve” Buford?

For the prosecution, DDA. Jones requested the maximum sentencing time available of four years (three years for the attempted robbery and one for the gun enhancement). Judge Oros agreed with the prosecution and sentenced Buford to a total of four years in prison.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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