By Annette Wong-Toi
SACRAMENTO, CA — Isaac Vargas had a pretty good reason for missing a 2018 court date—he was deported and his immigration status prevented him from re-entering the U.S.
His attorney, Eduardo Garnica, argued for the reduction of his bail, but after a review of the case’s factual basis, Judge Geoffrey Goodman decided that Vargas should be held in custody with no bail.
Garnica explained that Vargas missed his court date because he had been deported and unable to re-enter the U.S. His bail had been raised from $75,000 to $215,000 after he failed to appear in court, and Garnica asked the court to reduce bail to the original amount.
Defense counsel Garnica vouched for his client’s reliability, stating that Vargas had made all his other court appearances. When asked about the potential for future missed court dates, he denied that Vargas posed a flight risk, and had only failed to appear due to his immigration status.
However, Deputy District Attorney Sterling Wilkins asked the bail remain at $215,000, and even proposed the possibility of Vargas being held without bail altogether. He cited that Vargas posed a risk to public safety and expressed concern that he would fail to reappear in the future.
Wilkins stated that Vargas had failed to appear earlier in the case before his preliminary hearing in 2018. When checked with the clerk, his absence was confirmed.
DDA Wilkins continued with the factual basis of the case, alleging Vargas had been seen driving under the influence. Having had four prior DUI convictions, this would be his fifth.
After he was followed and confronted by a witness, a verbal argument ensued and ended with Vargas drawing a firearm. The victim began to run away, and called 911 after hearing a gunshot. A SWAT team entered the house and allegedly found Vargas with a magazine in his pocket.
Although it is unclear whether he intended to aim at the victim or not, Vargas is legally prohibited from owning firearms as a felon, the DDA said.
An additional shotgun was found on his property when it was searched, and Vargas’ blood alcohol was measured at 0.43 percent at the jail when he was taken in, well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
After hearing the facts, Judge Goodman decided that Vargas should be held with no bail, noting the DUI charge in question alone was a threat to public safety.
“That level of alcohol to a regular person is possibly lethal. In fact, that’s about the highest I think I’ve ever seen,” said the judge, noting the illegal possession and discharge of a firearm was enough to deny bail.
As the judge and attorneys were discussing a future trial date, Vargas requested that he have a speedy trial, which is normally guaranteed within 60 days of arraignment.
Defense attorney Garnica requested more time because he believed it would be necessary to prepare for trial as a result of a miscommunication regarding his receipt of the discovery for this case.
As translated by the interpreter, Vargas agreed that he wanted to see the discovery before the trial. Because his attorney requested more time, his trial date will be delayed.
Vargas’ next court date is Aug. 23.
Annette Wong-Toi is a third-year student at UC Davis studying Psychology and Communication. If she isn’t learning a new instrument or taking a nap, she’s probably feeding the stray cats outside her apartment. She hopes to develop her listening and communication skills to be a better student, writer, and friend.
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