By Dominique Kato
SACRAMENTO – Terry Eales was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of robbery in the second degree and pleading no contest to battery with a gang enhancement last week in Sacramento County Superior Court.
Eales appeared in court on June 26, 2020, for two matters. First, the judgment and sentencing on a case where he was convicted with co-defendant Justin Jorn for an assault and robbery in relation to a criminal street gang.
The second case involved his pleading no contest to battery with a gang enhancement, which makes it a felony. For that he’s “earned” two years concurrent to his sentence from the jury trial.
Judge Michael Sweet took his plea deal and then sentenced him to the maximum of 15 years.
In a press release from the Sacrament DA, the district attorney said that on May 18, 2016, Jorn and Eales approached the victim and told him he had to pay taxes to the Norteño gang for money he was making in the neighborhood.
When the victim refused, Jorn assaulted him and Eales took the victim’s money and jewelry. The victim was knocked unconscious and found in an alley two hours later.
And while the victim was in the hospital, Jorn drove by the victim’s house and shot at two people while they were outside of the house. The house was hit two times, and no one outside or inside the house was struck by gunfire. There was no mention of Eales’ involvement in the shooting.
On the virtual court Zoom, Judge Sweet first took the defendant’s plea before he sentenced him for both cases.
The district attorney was asking to amend the assault felony to a battery, Penal Code section 242, because it was alleged that Eales unlawfully inflicted injury on a victim in violation of PC 242. Further, the DA said, he was in violation of Penal Code section 186.22 subdivision b, a gang enhancement, which makes it a felony carrying a sentence of 1, 2, or 3 years in prison. The DA offered Eales two years to run at the same time as his sentence in the case decided by a jury, so it would not result in any additional time.
Judge Sweet informed Eales of his rights to a jury trial, to which Eales waived his rights. Deputy District Attorney Kristen Andersen and Defense Attorney David Fischer were present via Zoom, and both accepted.
DDA Andersen stated the factual basis. December 12, 2017, in Sacramento County, the defendant committed a violation of PC section 242. He used force against another person when he was in custody with the victim. Further, the defendant did commit the battery charge in violation of PC section 186.22 subsection d, in the benefit of and with association with the Norteños, a criminal street gang, which as indicated is a violation of 186.22 subsection b. This results in a felony offense.
Eales accepted the facts as stated. Eales pleaded no contest for violation of the 242 battery. The judge further read that he committed this act in association with the Norteño street gang, to which Eales said “deny.” Defense Attorney Fischer intervened and said, “So it’s admit or deny, so admit.” Sweet asked the question again, and Eales said, “Admit.”
Before sentencing, counsel was allowed comments in relation to the probation report. Defense Attorney Fischer argued that the probation report recommended 15 years, which was far too long. He first claimed that this was an excessive sentence when you compare the roles of Eales and Jorn in the crime.
On video shown at the trial, Jorn is shown punching the victim first. Fischer notes that even though Eales is present, the jury even found he was more of an aider and abettor as opposed to being the person physically responsible. He argued that imposing a long sentence, which is the maximum for the PC section 211 robbery, it’d be stating that Eales’ conduct was the same as Jorn’s.
Fischer secondly argued that there is too much emphasis on gang involvement. He explained that Jorn’s and Eales’ relationship is a familial one, rather than gang related. It was learned during trial that Jorn’s sister is Eales’ cousin. Fischer concludes that the 15-year sentence is too severe.
DDA Andersen disagreed, arguing that this is the type of case where the court should impose the upper term. She noted that Eales did the actual taking of property, and without his conduct the robbery would not have been completed.
Andersen discussed that the aggravating factors in the probation report are accurate and true. The victim was assaulted, robbed and left for dead. Further, Eales, with a long criminal record, was on probation at the time of the crime, and recently released from prison. She argued that the legislature set violent and serious felonies with this 10-year enhancement because these are the crimes they are seeking to prevent.
Andersen asked for the maximum sentence of 15 years.
Judge Sweet noted that he agrees with Fischer on some points, but “must look at the bigger picture and follow rules of court.” Sweet noted that Eales has not performed well and his in-custody conduct has been atrocious.
Judge Sweet agreed with the probation assessment that there are no factors of mitigation and that it does warrant the imposition of the upper term. Jury conviction of Count 5, PC 211 for robbery, is five years and the gang enhancement adds 10 years. Eales is sentenced to a total of 15 years.
Eales has 1377 credits for actual days, 206 conduct credit days, totaling 1583 days. He will also serve an additional term of two years concurrent to this sentence. He is fined a $300 restitution fine, and $300 that will be stayed upon successful completion of parole or supervised release.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9