By Anika Khubchandani
SACRAMENTO – Assistant Public Defender Patricia Beza Contreras and Deputy District Attorney Matthew Michael Chisholm of the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office came to a resolution on behalf of the defendant, Norva Patton.
It was a decision that didn’t make the family of the stabbing victim happy.
The proposed resolution was that Patton pleads no contest to voluntary manslaughter and that she will be “sentenced to the middle term of six years” for her crime in addition to admitting her prior strike—which would double her sentence to 12 years in state prison.
Not only does Patton have several prior misdemeanor convictions, but also one prior felony conviction from 1991 in which she allegedly caused serious bodily injury by battery.
Despite Patton’s previous offenses, Chisholm argued that this current case should not go to trial, excusing her prior convictions by stating that “she has had no misdemeanor convictions since 2006” and “only one prior felony conviction” from a long time ago.
The DDA is also wary about how a jury will perceive the facts of the case. “We believe that a jury could find that a sudden quarrel was entered into between the victim and defendant and that the defendant acted rashly. The defendant only stabbed the victim one time. But that being said, it would lend itself as supportive of a rash decision instead of a clear intent to kill.”
The parties believe that the 12-year sentence in state prison is a suitable consequence for Patton’s actions; however, the sister of the victim vehemently disagrees, charging she “does not feel that this is justice, given that [the defendant] lost his life and that he has two young children that will now not have a father for the rest of their lives.”
The sister also believes “that because the defendant is female that she is being treated more leniently.” If the roles were reversed, the victim “would get a murder conviction and a life sentence.”
Under Marsy’s Law, the victim’s family has a right to deliver a statement before the court. As a result, the victim’s biological sister began her emotional testimony by crying that Patton “has taken so much from this family.”
She trembled as she relayed to the court that her niece and nephew are now spending Christmas without their father and her own kids have lost their loving uncle. Therefore “12 years…just doesn’t feel right because for the next 12 years we are still going to be hurting,” the sister told the court.
The sentence is incredibly unfair because the victim “didn’t even have a weapon,” she added, noting that the defendant “made that choice to pick up that knife” and stab the victim in the heart and kill him. Instead, Patton could have “locked him out” or “closed the door” or “there were so many other things that she could have done.”
The victim’s sister reiterated that Patton “chose to pick up a knife” and now “[the victim] is dead and we have to live with this.”
Judge Scott L. Tedmon attempted to reassure the victim’s sister that “this matter will be sent to probation for a pre-sentence report for a recommendation.” The offer on the table is only “a conditional plea subject to review of the probation report.” Therefore, the decision made by the court is not binding.
After making sure the defendant understood the consequences of her no-contest plea, Judge Tedmon set the sentencing hearing for Jan. 21, 2021, to allow for adequate time for the case to be “referred to probation for pre-sentence report and recommendation.”
Anika Khubchandani is a 4th year student at UC Davis majoring in both Political Science and Economics. She is from San Jose, CA.
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