By Lauren Smith
SACRAMENTO – Two no contest pleas taken by Judge Michael Savage in Sacramento County Superior Court last Friday morning point out some inconsistencies in sentencing.
For instance, defendant Allan Bell pleaded no contest to an assault with a semi-automatic firearm charge that potentially could have resulted in a 19-year sentence in a state prison if found guilty at trial.
Originally, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Morris offered a 10-year sentence; however, because he agreed to plead no contest, the defendant will receive a three-year term in state prison.
According to DDA Morris, on January 25, the defendant went to an “anti-gun violence event” at a former elementary school.
When Bell arrived at the school with his friend, he parked in a parking lot near the playground. In that “playground area,” the defendant got into a fight with someone. Once the fight was over, the defendant returned to his friend’s vehicle and retrieved a semi-automatic firearm that he “pointed…in the direction of a group of people, including the person he fought with,” said the DDA.
He fired the weapon one time before running away, continuing to fire “numerous more times at people fleeing through the playground.” When Bell returned to the vehicle, “he was shot five times” —it was unclear from DDA Morris’ statement who shot the defendant.
Then, later in the morning, Judge Savage heard defendant Joshua Szymczak’s case, in which he was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm.
According to Deputy District Attorney Kendra Havlick, on May 21, the defendant “unlawfully possess[ed] for the purpose of sale, methamphetamine. In this case there were over 70 grams of methamphetamine as well as packaging” and a book containing a payment tracker.
DDA Havlick also stated that on May 21, the defendant “own[ed]…possess[ed] and [had] custody and control” of a .38 caliber revolver firearm. Szymczak was previously convicted of felony reckless evading in 2014, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm.
Similarly to Bell, Szymczak pleaded no contest. But his sentence was double Bell’s, or six years in state prison.
Arguably, Bell’s alleged actions at the time of the shooting as well as the location where he fired the semi-automatic firearm—a playground at an “anti-gun violence” event—could lead prosecutors to seek a harsher sentence. Instead his sentence was half that of Szymczk’s, also charged with methamphetamine with intent to sell.
This inconsistency in sentencing could lead to questions about the severity of the charge matching the severity of the sentence—although former felons like Szymczak often get a harsher sentence than someone without a record.
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