By Roxanna Jarvis
SACRAMENTO – An argument about drinking turned physical between a defendant and her mother here in Sacramento, with the defendant punching her mother about eight times in the head and pushing her down the driveway. The quarrel left the defendant’s mother with head injuries and bruises to her arms and neck.
The defendant, Natasha Lester, appeared in person at Sacramento County Superior Court Monday, hoping to reduce her charge (assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury) from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Assistant Public Defender Tatiana Cottam claimed that the facts of the case justified the reduction of the charge. But Judge Michael Sweet said Lester was already held to answer for her charge in late July of this year.
“What case are you looking at, Judge?” asked Deputy District Attorney Adrianne McMillan. “This has been with me since March. She did not enter any pleas as of yet.”
It turns out Judge Sweet was referring to a case that happened in December 2019, in which the defendant’s mother was also a victim.
“[This is] part of the reason why I was starting this out as a felony because this also involved the same victim,” argued McMillan.
The court’s facts in this case indicate that in February of this year, police were called to respond to an assault. The victim, Lester’s mother, confronted Lester about her drinking problem and the two got into an argument.
Lester demanded her mother give her the phone. When she denied, the defendant (intoxicated at the time) allegedly jumped onto her and punched her on her head approximately eight times with a closed fist. “The [police] report states that she strangled her,” added McMillan.
Lester then sat on her mother’s legs, and when her mother began saying it hurt, Lester replied, “Well, let’s just break it (her legs).”
At some point, the struggle between mother and daughter ended up outside.
“They leave the residence and are outside and the defendant kicks her mom down the driveway as the victim’s trying to run out of the house. The victim fell all the way down to the ground and stumbled down the driveway to the sidewalk,” explained McMillan.
When officers arrived, Lester was hidden behind a storage bin in the side yard and “heavily intoxicated.”
Lester’s mother had bruises on her arm and neck. She also had injuries to her head, stating to officers that she “felt dizzy.”
After hearing the prosecution’s facts of the case, Judge Sweet had to clarify what occurred. “She kicked her mom down the driveway? That’s literal—she was actually kicking her?”
“She did kick her down the driveway,” asserted McMillan, who said the mother is 61 years old.
Despite her injuries, Lester’s mother rejected the no-contact order McMillan initially wrote, instead requesting for “peaceful contact.” Yet, McMillan still suggested Lester be charged a felony due to the “robbery undertone” and “violence towards her mom” in the incident.
Ultimately, Judge Sweet decided to implement a 90-day review over six months, with Lester going to treatment and presenting documentation of her progress during check-ins.
“I wanna monitor her now, see how she performs for a period of time, and then if she’s successful I can reduce [her charge],” explained Sweet. “I want her to, for lack of a better phrase, earn reduction and she hasn’t earned it yet.”
Sweet noted that after reducing the charge, it’s up to the DA if her case gets dismissed or stays a misdemeanor.
Before Lester left the courtroom, Sweet added one last requirement. “I also wanna hear (from) your mom first.”
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