By Michael Wheeler
SACRAMENTO, CA — Ill will and resentment bubbled over this week in Sacramento County Superior Court’s Dept. 60 between defendant Andrew Rodriguez and Assistant Public Defender Stephen Nelson.
Asked by Judge Scott Tedmon whether he accepted the plea deal offer, Rodriguez erupted, “You know what your Honor, I’m going to accept it because I’m tired of this dude, I’m tired of hearing him, I’m tired of seeing his face. He ain’t done nothing for me, so I’m going to accept this deal today. I want to get out [of] the way, because I’m tired of this dude in my face. He’s worthless.”
Judge Tedmon sharply rebuked Rodriguez. “I’m not going to allow this courtroom to be a venting session,” he stated. “That’s enough.”
Deputy District Attorney Teal Ericson informed the court, “The defendant both verbally in person threatened to shoot the victim in the face regarding a disagreement about the custody of their son, and also texted her and left her voicemails multiple times, including threats to kill her, to shoot her.”
The threats dated to the end of July 2020 in Sacramento County, and the victim requested through the prosecution, and was granted, a 10-year no-contact order, the only exceptions being in case of later family court rulings.
Rodriguez was given a second strike to be added to his record, with his plea, and he reacted with surprise. He informed the court that he had expected the strike to be removed from his record before being told otherwise by Nelson and Judge Tedmon.
Rodriguez was visibly upset during the remainder of his hearing. Asked to state his plea by Tedmon, Rodriguez initially pleaded guilty before correcting himself to plead no contest, saying, “Whatever it is, same thing. No contest.”
Nelson later admonished him, saying, “Sir, this is all your choice.”
Judge Tedmon sentenced Rodriguez to a suspended sentence of three years. Taking into account time previously served, Rodriguez is to be released March 12, in the presence of a representative from the Delancey Street Foundation. Judge Tedmon ordered him to complete, at minimum, their two-year rehabilitation and job skills program in Los Angeles, along with three years of formal probation.
Following the reading of the sentence, DDA Ericson chimed in, in support of Nelson, noting, “It was only through the advocacy of Mr. Nelson, and getting Mr. Rodriguez into a rehabilitation program, that we agreed to allow him to take that opportunity instead of sticking with our doubled state prison offer.”
Judge Tedmon also spoke to Rodriguez about the opportunities the Delancey Street program offered. “Your attitude going into Delancey Street is going to tell the tale as to whether you take advantage of this and come out on the other end rehabilitated and with skills you don’t have currently,” the judge said.
“I’m not here to lecture you, but I’m here to encourage you,” Judge Tedmon added.
In response to the judge, Rodriguez again expressed his grievance of ill-treatment by his attorney.
“I have every want to better my life. It’s just, no disrespect, this gentleman was very unprofessional and rude to me,” said Rodriguez.
He also said he was looking forward to the benefits of the Delancey Street Program, noting, “I’m going to complete the program. You know, regardless, I’m doing it to better myself because, obviously, I’ve been in and out of my kids’ lives.”
After Rodriguez had left the courtroom, PD Nelson remarked to the judge, “He’s singing my praises as he walks down the hallway.”
Judge Tedmon replied, “Well, you did a good job.”
Michael Wheeler is a junior at UC Davis, where he studies History and Economics. He is from Walnut Creek, California.
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