Judge Disagrees with Plea Deal, but Accepts Recommendation after Victim’s Statement

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By Ankita Joshi

FRESNO, CA – Judge Francine Zepeda ruled to accept the plea deal offered to Defendant Rudy Perez in court today, despite voicing her concerns about the leniency of the deal.

Defendant Rudy Perez was present in court this week on charges for two different incidents of strangulation of his then-partner.

The hearing began with Deputy District Attorney Adam Christopherson relaying the victim’s statement on how she wished the court would proceed.

The victim noted she would be unavailable for court because of her work, and also because she has two very young children to watch. She added that she would like this case to resolve as quickly as possible, because testifying would be a burden to her for the same reasons.

And even though the victim stated that she does not want a relationship with the defendant and wants a criminal protective order, she requested that the defendant be sentenced to probation without “too much custody time so he can get a job and pay child support.”

After hearing the victim’s statement on the case, Judge Zepeda voiced her own disapproval of the plea deal that was offered to Perez.

“When there is strangulation involved like there is in this case, I think someone deserves to go to prison. At a minimum, do more time than 180 days,” the judge stated.

Judge Zepeda also acknowledged that she understands the reasons why the victim would like the case to resolve quickly, but maintained that the two separate incidents of strangulation were extremely serious and needed to be evaluated further.

At this, Defense Attorney Jack Revvill asked the court if they had received the letter written by defendant Perez about the incidents.

Revvill began by noting his own surprise at the probation report because Perez did not have a significant criminal history.

The only other felony present on Perez’s history included a nonviolent offense that had occurred more than 10 years ago. There were also three misdemeanors, but those all were also nonviolent incidents.

Additionally, the letter written by defendant Perez accepts his responsibility in the incidents against the victim, and also expresses remorse for his actions.

Perez was not interviewed in person by the probation department, so he was not able to fully display the remorse he felt for his actions, said Revvill, who emphasized how important of a factor Perez’s letter is when determining the length of his sentence.

Revvill also noted that the defendant shares two children with the victim. And while the victim has taken her case to family court to get full custody, Perez is “looking forward to the program to show court and family court that he can contribute meaningfully to his family.”

For all those reasons, Revvill told the court that he believes the previous plea agreement is fair and should be followed by the court.

However, Judge Zepeda still had some reservations about following through with the plea agreement.

“I understand that, but the fact that he actually did it on more than one occasion … and right below homicide is strangulation. And someone who would strangle their partner is thought to be capable of homicide as well,” stated Judge Zepeda.

Judge Zepeda also commented that she was “surprised and horrified” that the defendant would be able to act so violently toward anyone, “especially to the person who is the mother of his children.”

She warned Perez that the criminal protective order against him makes it so that he cannot have a relationship with the victim, he has to go to family court for visitation rights, and cannot have any visitation with his children until then.

After Perez affirmed that he completely understands the restrictions of the criminal protective order, Judge Zepeda agreed to follow the original plea agreement due to the words of the victim and the lack of a prior criminal history.

Perez was sentenced to jail for 256 days for his first charge, and a commitment to the custody of the sheriff for 256 days for his second charge, along with formal probation for three years.

Ankita Joshi is a second-year student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing a major in International Studies and a minor in Political Science. She is originally from Sacramento, CA.

 


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