By Michael Wheeler
SACRAMENTO, CA – At two sentencings here in Sacramento County Superior Court this week, both defendants wanted something—one defendant had a statement he wanted to make, and another was very concerned that he receive all of the “good time” credits for his nearly two years awaiting a trial.
Eugene Brooks was up first, and had a statement for his victim, noting “I just want to thank her for ruining my life, but also for starting my life of sobriety. I have no ill will towards her, I just hope that her and her family will heal.”
On August 24, 2019, while his mother-in-law was visiting her daughter and their children, Brooks “orally copulated her” while she was sleeping in the grandchildren’s bedroom. He told the court that he had been under the influence when the incident occurred.
In his statement he made to court, Brooks seemed to challenge the fact that the encounter had been nonconsensual. “I just want to get this behind me and move forward. You know, this is embarrassing. I wish she didn’t have to go this way with this, you know?”
Brooks pleaded no contest to one count of oral copulation with a victim who was unconscious or asleep. As a consequence, Brooks will have to serve three years in prison, in addition to registering as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Later in the session, Judge Frawley oversaw the sentencing of Rafael Valles, charged with numerous counts relating to a string of armed robberies he carried out in Sacramento County in the summer of 2019.
Beginning on June 18, 2019, Valles, sometimes accompanied by others, repeatedly met people via exchange apps such as Offer Up under the pretense of trading shoes or other items with them. However, upon meeting up, Valles forcibly at gunpoint took the items from the victims without paying.
He also committed armed robberies at a Dress Barn store and a T-Mobile retail outlet, on June 30 and July 1, respectively. In both instances, he took property and cash from the store while intimidating employees by making it known that he was armed.
According to prosecutor Andrea Morris, “In all of the robbery counts, the victims expressed fear of the defendant and his counterparts, due to their behaviors as well as the weapons displayed.”
Judge Frawley scolded Morris while she read the statement of facts, expressing frustration that she was not putting her statement into words that non-lawyers could understand.
“Just the way you talk to your neighbor is the way I want to hear it, because the defendant hasn’t gone to law school. I want him to understand. You’re putting too much formality and legalese into it. I just want facts, which in plain English address the elements of the charges,” the judge said.
Valles was anxious to know if the days which he had previously served would be able to take time off his sentence. He has spent one year and 273 days in custody, which accounts for 631 days of credits.
His attorney Robert Grow assured him that everything would be calculated as it should be.
“We’ll take care of your time credits, Rafael. You’ll get exactly what you’re entitled to.”
However, because the counts against him were violent, Morris said that his credits would likely be recalculated at sentencing to only cover 85 percent of the days that he had already served.
The exact total will be confirmed on April 16, when Valles returns to court for formal sentencing. He is currently slated to serve 12 years eight months in prison, minus any “good time” credits.
Michael Wheeler is a junior at UC Davis, where he studies History and Economics. He is from Walnut Creek, California.
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