Defendant Asks for ‘Another Chance,’ Judge Reluctantly Issues Sentence

By Natasha Feuerstein

SACRAMENTO, CA – Judge Patrick Marlette had high hopes for defendant Robert Cunningham, and was not looking forward to sentencing him here in Sacramento County Superior Court Friday.

Cunningham was previously charged with two felonies for armed robbery and grand theft, and a misdemeanor for petty theft. But he was given a chance

Judge Marlette said he was disappointed to see Cunningham back in court for sentencing, with his appearance indicating his failure to prove he could do well if released back into the community.

Defense Attorney Susana Martin explained she had been with Cunningham since the very beginning of this journey.

And at a previous court appearance, she came to an agreement with Judge Marlette that they would see how Cunningham did in a rehabilitation facility and a flexible housing program to avoid sentencing.

But Cunningham was not successful in these programs, explaining his appearance in court Friday.

Judge Marlette sighed, “Anything before sentencing?”

He paused for a few moments, before continuing. “All right, Mr. Cunningham, it’s been a long road, and I’m not happy to have to do this but….” The judge fell silent again.

Cunningham quietly interjected into the silence, “I want another chance.”

“I know, I know,” Judge Marlette replied heavily. He paused for a few moments again. He seemed in no hurry to issue the sentence.

While Judge Marlette appeared to be contemplating matters, Cunningham spoke up once more and asked what probation had to say about all this.

Martin explained that probation advised to “just impose the sentence.”

Judge Marlette fussed over what exactly probation said for a few moments, before Deputy District Attorney Cody Winchester clarified that probation had recommended the court go ahead with sentencing of seven years and four months total time for Cunningham.

Judge Marlette sighed again. “Mr. Cunningham…we made a deal I was hoping was going to take, and it did not. Frankly, that punishment was so severe, I thought that would be the thing to make this happen, and it didn’t, so I don’t have anything I think would be more motivation for you,” he said regretfully.

Cunningham was not eligible for probation due to his prior strikes, but Judge Marlette explained that he would not have granted probation anyway because of the facts and circumstances of this case.

Judge Marlette decided to give the middle punishment, but doubled both prison terms for the two cases since Cunningham previously pleaded and admitted his prior strike in each case.

The aggregate time in prison was set at seven years and four months.

Judge Marlette told Cunningham he had credit for previous time served, and he gave him additional credit for good conduct that totaled to 1,912 days of credit.

At this point, Cunningham was remanded to the sheriff to complete his prison term.

“I hope you can take advantage of the classes and services they offer there. Good luck.” Judge Marlette said as Cunningham left.

Natasha Feuerstein is a senior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science and minoring in Global Disease Biology. She is originally from Camden, Delaware.

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