By Mella Bettag
FRESNO – Unlike many defendants in Fresno County Superior Court, Brian Pittman wanted treatment. In fact, he requested it.
Pittman was brought in front of Judge Francine Zepeda Tuesday for sentencing for a felony domestic violence charge. Pittman entered a no contest plea to the charge in January. Since then, Pittman has acquired four new misdemeanor charges, all holding him in contempt of the court.
Arraignment for the misdemeanors was also scheduled Tuesday.
Assistant Public Defender Blaine Sullivan and Deputy District Attorney Nicole Idiart had agreed upon a sentence in which Pittman would have credit for the 37 days he had served in Fresno County Jail. This agreement, however, was discarded after the four new misdemeanor charges were brought against Pittman.
DDA Idiart was willing to dismiss all four new charges, as long as she deemed Pittman’s new sentence adequate.
For Pittman’s sentence, Idiart suggested against a batterer’s treatment program, an alternative to a prison stay that is often used in domestic violence cases, because she believed Pittman’s attendance would be unreliable. Instead, Idiart believed Pittman should serve 180 days in jail with no probation afterward.
Judge Zepeda agreed that, in light of the new charges, a harsher sentence with additional jail time was necessary. Zepeda decided against giving Pittman credit for his current custody stay, but did not support the prosecution’s proposed sentence, especially with no treatment plan for Pittman. “[I] really dislike doing that, because personally, I believe they need to do batterer’s treatment,” said Zepeda.
Sullivan, Pittman’s attorney, also agreed that a slightly harsher sentence would be all right. Instead of the 180 days of jail sentence the prosecution suggested, Sullivan proposed a different sentence—an additional short stay in the county jail, and an in-patient treatment program for substance abuse.
In fact, Sullivan said, Pittman asked for the treatment program.
It was true, Pittman said. No matter what his sentence was, he wanted an in-patient treatment program. He had several reasons for his request. Firstly, he said he was trying to “do the right thing.” Secondly, he has past substance problems. Thirdly, his housing situation, while somewhat stable, was very temporary, and he didn’t want to burden the friend he was staying with.
Probation officer Keri Calles confirmed that, if assessed by probation, Pittman might have a spot at Westcare in Fresno.
In the end, Zepeda gave Pittman 57 days in jail, and three years formal probation with drug conditions. Zepeda requested that Pittman also pay victim restitution and $500 to the Domestic Violence fund. After being released, Pittman must comply with a criminal protective order and reach out to probation about a treatment program.
Pittman’s next review is set for November 3 in Fresno Superior Court, Dept. 10.