Judge Denies Motion to Strike a ‘Strike,’ Doubles Defendant’s Prison Time

By Savannah Dewberry and Alexander Pleitez

SACRAMENTO, CA – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette Thursday denied a motion to dismiss a strike on defendant Deangelo Porter’s record, and then—after lecturing him to admit his mistakes—doubled his sentence and sent him to prison for four years.

“I don’t discount the good that Mr. Porter does for the community, I don’t discount his success, but … the examination of Porter’s case does not warrant dismissing a strike as if it had not happened,” said Judge Marlette.

In an incident occurring in 2019, Porter was pulled over by an officer for having tinted windows. He then allegedly fled from the officer, driving more than 50 miles-per-hour in a residential neighborhood. Porter collided with another vehicle, totaling his car.

In a search of the vehicle, police found a loaded 40 caliber pistol.

Porter was found guilty for possessing a firearm as a felon, as well as reckless driving. Because this conviction would mean his second serious felony, Porter’s private attorney Ernie Castillo made a “Romero motion” in an effort to lessen Porter’s sentence.

A Romero motion, named after the 1996 People vs. Romero case that established it, would ask the prosecution to not take any prior strikes into consideration during sentencing.

Under California’s Three-Strikes Law, a defendant convicted of a felony with a prior strike would have their sentence doubled, with a third strike guaranteeing 25 years to life in prison.

Porter’s previous strike occurred in 2007, when he and two others robbed a pizza delivery man of $53, with replica handguns. Castillo argued that because Porter’s previous strike occurred nearly a decade ago, when the defendant was 17 years old, the courts should ignore that factor when sentencing Porter.

“I know Mr. Porter has had quite a few hiccups throughout his life since that 2007 conviction,” said Castillo. “But he has made tremendous strides and efforts to create a career and be a positive member of society.”

Castillo brought up Porter’s community service work in Oakland and around the Bay Area as a mentor to troubled youths.

Defendant Porter himself made an impassioned plea to the judge, apologizing for his actions.

“It was stupid of me, I wasn’t thinking,” he said. “I was more so scared of being taken away from my kids, and my career, and the good things I have been doing. And I just ask that (if) I can get a second chance at life. I don’t ever want to be back in jail again, and I can promise you, you won’t ever see me again here.”

However, Deputy District Attorney Sterling Wilkins felt differently, maintaining the defendant’s prior convictions were too serious to ignore.

DDA Wilkins noted a 2017 incident where Porter was found in possession of a firearm while a felon and driving without a license, which, that time, did not result in a second strike against the defendant.

The prosecutor charged the defendant had not learned his lesson.

“He’s committing the same offenses and when he’s faced with the reality of facing prison time, rather than acknowledging that he’s caught, he instead decides to flee to see if he can get away,” said Wilkins.

Ultimately Judge Marlette decided to consider the strike during sentencing, saying the danger the defendant posed to the public was “considerable” and sentenced Porter to four years in prison.

“If he has obligations to take care of his family, if he has a career that he’s built, if he wants to plead that he needs to be there for his wife, he needs to understand that that involves an examination of his character and his prospects,” said Judge Marlette.

“And him going with a gun both in 2017 and on this offense, says much more about his character and his prospects than what he has said here in court today,” the judge added.

Savannah Dewberry is a student at the University of San Francisco. She is pursuing a Media Studies major with a minor in Journalism. Savannah Dewberry is an East Bay native and currently lives in San Francisco.

Alexander Pleitez is a senior at South San Francisco High School planning to major in Political Science or Biology, currently residing in the Bay Area, and hopes to sharpen his writing skills and garner work experience with new opportunities.

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