By Alana Bleimannn
FRESNO – Fresno County Superior Court Judge Adolfo Corona presided over a myriad of cases from four different Fresno departments in the morning including one involving defendant Jaime Rodriguez who, after pleading guilty to one count of attempted robbery with a criminal threat, insisted he’s “an honest person” and “not a bad person.”
Rodriguez was charged under Penal Code section 422 which states that a threatening statement of harm to another person was made—he was sentenced by the judge to 32 months in prison.
He is also charged with attempted robbery after approaching a young pregnant woman outside a shopping center asking for money in late June of this year.
“[The defendant] approached strangers, needed money, and he didn’t get it. He admitted to threatening these strangers who were just there to shop and go about their normal day and that angered him and that he felt judged … so he threatened her and he readily admitted to that,” Deputy District Attorney Alex Guillermo, Jr., told the judge.
Defendant Rodriguez’s morning sentencing session began with Assistant Public Defender Wade Freitas requesting that Judge Corona consider a lower sentence and admission for Rodriquez to Fresno Rescue Mission, an organization that works closely with substance abuse and familial trauma victims.
In his previous strike, Rodriguez denied his own use of substances (drugs and alcohol) even though evidence showed otherwise. The details of this previous strike were not discussed in length, but “this is the extent of his criminal history except for a misdemeanor in 2015 which is due to substance abuse issues and mental health issues,” public defender Freitas claimed.
Guillermo countered and argued that “my concern … he denied any use of drugs or alcohol .. .has no intention of treating any substance abuse issues … has numerous parole violations … has no real indication of treating that.”
Judge Corona agreed wholeheartedly with Guillermo and acknowledged that the young victim “was traumatized by the event and was placed in a hospital with anxiety and trouble breathing.”
Rodriguez did threaten to kill her and has had an “opportunity … to address anger management issues.”
At this moment, Rodriguez politely interrupted the judge and asked to be heard, and Judge Corona willingly agreed to hear anything the defendant had to say.
“What’s going on is not true,” Rodriguez began, “32 months is too much for me, I am just a young kid and I apologize to the People.”
Rodriguez then claimed it was his counsel’s fault, charging, “I tried contacting Mr. Wade, he doesn’t answer any of my calls and does not look out for my best interest and I’m really mad because I am not this kind of person that people can just talk crap about, ya know?”
Public defender Freitas rolled his eyes and shook his head at this point, indicating that what Rodriguez said was not true.
“I’m someone who admitted to my mistakes. I was just being honest because I wanted you [Judge Corona] to give me a chance. I was showing you that I was an honest person that I’m not a bad person and if I was a bad person I would be lying to you and I would be going about … taking advantage of your kindness I am not that kind of person your Honor.”
After Rodriguez had politely finished, Judge Corona stated that he “appreciates those comments … I believe this is a fair treatment of this case.”
Continuing to feel defeated, Rodriguez began again. “This is not the first time I’ve run into this victim,” Rodriguez revealed in an effort to defend himself.
“The last time the police were called and we talked about it and they told me to leave her alone … I did not know it was her again … if I had known that, your Honor, I would not have been picking on this person the way I was,” the defendant added.
Judge Corona almost laughed and stated that this information was “not helpful” to his case.
In response, Rodriguez abruptly said, “Mr. Wade is not helpful to me at all … doesn’t know much about me,” but Judge Corona claimed that Freitas is an “excellent advocate for his clients.”
Rodriguez was able to close his thoughts by stating:
“I took the second strike because I thought you would have a heart … I am 26 years old, your Honor. There are people out there worser than me who actually do know what they are doing … you’re being really mean to me right now. This is not cool … it was just a random stranger.”
Judge Corona loudly interrupted by saying, “Mr. Rodriguez we’re done,” clearly wanting to end the conversation and move on to the next defendant.
Rodriguez was denied probation and sentenced to 32 months in state prison along with a payment of restitution to the victim.
Alana Bleimann is a junior at the University of San Francisco majoring in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice Studies. She is from Raleigh, North Carolina.
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