By Kelly Moran
WOODLAND–– Defendant Angel Lopez dodged a “sentencing” bullet Thursday here morning in Yolo County Superior Court after a judge stepped in and gave Lopez a break.
A probation department deal asked that Lopez plead to the felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon that includes an enhancement because of Lopez’s alleged involvement in a gang and serve 364 days in jail, or alternative sentencing.
It would put Lopez in county jail for up to 364 days with the chance to serve that time in an alternative work program through the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office.
However, Judge David W. Reed ultimately ruled that “disposition of sentencing” will be suspended, and sentenced Lopez to only 180 days—half the earlier 364-day “deal”—to be completed in an alternative program or jail, with two years of probation.
Deputy District Attorney David Wilson noted that “[he] was not in agreement with alternative sentencing,” when he spoke to the defense about the potential resolution for the case, but he explained, “I didn’t restrict that as part of the deal.”
Either way, Judge Reed felt the probation department’s suggestion of one year in jail for Lopez was unexpected, stating, “Even though I consider the conduct extremely serious and concerning, I was surprised when I saw a recommendation of 364 days.”
Defense attorney Patricia Campi proposed the leaner sentence of 180 days for her client, and asked that Lopez be able to work in an alternative sentencing program, such as Electronic Monitoring, “to allow him to continue working and to be a contributing member of the community.
“In light of the fact that Mr. Lopez has no criminal history up to this point,” said Campi, “I’d ask the court to consider this an unusual case.”
Campi also read a letter written by one of the defendant’s supervisors at Advantage Drywall, where he had worked since November 2019, that spoke to Lopez’s value as a worker.
“We consider Angel to be a valuable employee and he will be employed with Advantage Drywall as long as we continue to have work available,” the letter stated, “since Angel is a valuable member of our team, we anticipate having him work full time through the year 2021, and hopefully beyond.”
DDA Wilson agreed with Campi, saying that “based on his lack of criminal record and his relatively young age, the probation is appropriate, especially in light of the potential prison sentence that hangs over his head if he violates probation.”
But Wilson continued to argue in spite of these two factors.
“The one fact that I would say is concerning to the People,” Wilson said, “is that when he was interviewed, Mr. Lopez denied that he was a gang member. I’m very concerned that he’s not taking this seriously.”
Wilson also directed the court’s attention to the enhancement placed on the defendant’s charge that, according to Wilson, “shows active participation in the gang.”
Wilson also explained that another shooting occurred this past Sunday at the home of the victim in this case. “There is not an identified suspect, and I’m not accusing Mr. Lopez of doing anything, but there is concern on the part of the victim and his family,” Wilson said.
“This whole incident was about the failure of the victim’s brother to produce or provide firearms that Mr. Lopez was actively distributing to other gang members, or at least possessing for other gang members,” continued Wilson, and “his denial that he’s a gang member is particularly concerning, [and] indicates in some portion he’s not taking this serious[ly].”
Despite Wilson’s expressed concerns, Lopez will only face 180 days in jail or a program through the sheriff’s office, and two years of probation.
Judge Reed reduced the felony fines Lopez will have to pay from $500 and $1550, to $100 and $310 respectively. He will be required to stay at least 100 yards away from the home of the victim, and cannot “wear or display any clothing or other items which may indicate gang affiliation or alliance,” according to the terms for the gang enhancement. This includes “any signs or gestures known to indicate gang affiliation,” and not contacting any known members of a gang.
Judge Reed made it very clear that even after a successful completion of probation, Lopez will never be able to own a gun for the rest of his life.
“With this conviction, you may never, ever legally own a gun or possess a gun,” said Judge Reed, “it’s a lifelong prohibition under federal law… there’s no second amendment right for people who have been convicted of felonies.”
If Lopez is not accepted into an alternative sentencing program, he is ordered to surrender himself to the Yolo County Police Dept. by 9 a.m. on March 25.
Kelly Moran is currently a senior at Santa Clara University, though originally from Connecticut. She is majoring in English, with a focus on British Literature and Professional Writing, and is also minoring in Journalism.
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