Mothers of Child Victims Ask for Tough Sentence in Court Letters; Judge Sentences Defendant to Mid-Term Sentence

By Lovepreet Dhinsa

SACRAMENTO, CA – It could have been worse for Landon Perez, who was sentenced here in Sacramento Superior Court last Friday for lewd behavior with underage children.

He received a mid-term sentence of three years in prison and must register as a sex offender, but two mothers of the child victims wanted more than that, as noted in letters to the court.

The defendant went to trial and was convicted for two counts, and he was in court for sentencing. But Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Aarseth was not done yet. She had additional letters, statements, and testimonies to be read before a sentencing could be finalized.

The defense objected to hearing testimony from the victims’ mothers because they weren’t victims themselves. The defense referenced Cunningham v. California Gate in 2007, and argued that the court could rely on that information to come to a decision.

The jury had already convicted the defendant on two counts, and the defense did not want the court to hear any additional information, which could increase the defendant’s sentence.

However, the judge allowed it, adding he would not take the statements into account, but allowed the testimony to be heard. The prosecution alleged that the two mothers weren’t necessarily witnesses, but they became de-facto victims when their children were approached.

The two witnesses and victims in the crime were children, and they were not present at the hearing. Instead, their mothers came to testify on their behalf.

The first victim’s mother gave brief testimony on the gravity of the situation, and wanted to “express my [her] fear and concerns requesting that appropriate actions be taken against this predator to ensure the safety of all children.”

The first mother believed that probation following a short-term sentence was not appropriate, given the gravity of the actions of the predator. She believed that this incident had impacted her child’s life significantly.

The first mother urged the court to impose the maximum amount of sentencing, as “a child is the most vulnerable of all victims, and justice must prevail and speak for all of these kids.”

The second victim’s mother was unable to come to court that day, but she submitted a letter that the prosecutor read in front of the court.

The second mother recalled how her child had always grown up around her grandparents, cousins, and extended family. She always grew up around adults, but never had been in a position where she had been in danger from adults.

The mother believed this incident that happened to these children and herself was the “unfortunate introduction of modern-day sad and horrific reality of predatory humans.”

Before the incident, her child never had a reason to fear an adult, but since the incident occurred with the defendant, her child has a newfound “awareness of the possibility of harmful intent upon her person from an adult.”

As a single parent, the mother has tried to warn her daughter of “the dangers of strangers using money, sweets, or other means to entice her and other children with her in order to cause them harm.”

However, until now her daughter never had an incident she could relate to, and her innocent child did not take this seriously until the actual incident happened to her.

The mother was grateful that her child sensed something wasn’t right that day and “she did not want to imagine the more serious trauma that would have occurred if things had gone in a different direction.”

As the parent responsible for the child’s care and safety, she said she tried to protect her “child’s innocence and gradually introduce the facts of human biology, and the changes that she would experience in her own body with puberty.”

Because of this incident, when the “defendant exposed himself to her, it caused her to feel fear, shame, and disgust, and I am doing my best as her parent to help her not be ashamed of her human biology.”

The mother hopes her daughter will learn how to respect herself, her body, and others and their bodies, while expecting the same respect from others.

When the mother spoke to her daughter about the incident, the mother felt remorseful about what her child told her. According to the mother, as the child had told her, “wherever we go, if we are in a store, she doesn’t go far away from me and keeps to my side. She makes sure that people are around her, and she is more consciously aware of who is around and the danger of wandering around alone.”

The mother emphasized that she cannot imagine the memory of this incident and how it will impact her daughter in the future. She thought it was “unfortunate that we live in a world that evil lives in many forms, and one has touched our lives and the lives of our friends through the actions of the defendant.”

The mother’s letter ended with hope that the defendant would consider his actions, make a better future for himself, and get the help from the right people.

The prosecution further argued that the defendant used sophistication when it came to the crime, as this case suggested aggravation, not mitigation.

The prosecutor argued that the defendant “consciously plotted out how he would carry out his actions by grooming these children, giving them money, building their trust, being in a place where he knew they were vulnerable, and then violated their trust. He approached her, pulled out his penis, and exposed himself and told the child to touch it.”

The prosecutor also alleged that the defendant had three prior DUIs, and he was also intoxicated when he approached the defendant, which might suggest some issue of substance abuse of alcohol.

The prosecution also presented information from the defendant’s girlfriend, who had seen the defendant at various apartment complexes across the city, where he could manipulate other children. The prosecution also alleged that the defendant had been to this specific apartment at least five times prior to the incident.

Lovepreet Dhinsa is a junior undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She has a passion for criminal defense law, and strives to go to law school to fight for indigent clients. As such, she is also involved in her university’s mock trial program and student government.

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