Public Defender Pushes for Alternative Rehab for Homeless Defendant in Tears, Charged with Cockfighting


By Linhchi Nguyen and Benjamin Porter 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Defendant Armindo Amores appeared before Judge Michael Bowman at Sacramento County Superior Court Monday “practically in tears” after his public defender requested on his behalf to place him in a residential rehabilitation program. 

Amores, who in 2012 faced felony charges for false imprisonment and infliction of corporal injury, is now charged with a felony for cockfighting, a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year or a fine up to $25,000. 

However, since Amores is homeless and has been having a really difficult time, according to Assistant Public Defender JoAnn Arcuino Virata, the court was asked by the PD to allow her to connect him to a social worker, so he can opt into a residential rehab solution. 

The hearing was initially planned to set the case for a preliminary hearing or resolve it that day, but PD Virata said that additional context of Amores’s case needed to be considered because “he’s having issues today; he’s practically in tears.”

Virata explained to the court that Deputy District Attorney Monica Robinson had extended an offer to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor with 120 days incarceration, but that Robinson had also indicated openness to a residential rehab resolution, which Virata prefers.

“He’s homeless,” Virata said. “He lives under a bridge, which is kinda compounded by the fact that he doesn’t have a phone, so we’ve been having communication issues, which resulted in him not making it to court last week.”

Because of these communication issues, defendant Amores also did not show up for a meeting with Virata’s social worker to help him get to the residential rehab program. 

Consequently, Virata requested one more continuance, stating that it was her intention “to walk him back to her social worker at her office today.”

Virata apologized to DDA Robinson for changing the original plan for the hearing, but neither Robinson nor Judge Bowman objected to Virata’s request. 

“I think that Mr. Amores could use the help of some sort of a residential program,” Robinson said.

Judge Bowman said that he “would not accept a plea” that day, given Amores’s mental state, and concluded the hearing by thanking Virata for her handling of the case.

“Ms. Virata, you should be commended for all your hard work, not just with this client, but with all your clients. You are an excellent advocate for Mr. Amores,” the judge noted.

Judge Bowman then addressed Amores, stating, “Mr. Amores, go with your attorney. She has put a lot of work into this case to try to make sure that we can get you out of this felony situation and perhaps avoid any jail time.”

Amores is set to return back to court July 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Dept. 63. 

Linhchi Nguyen is a fourth year at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and English. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.

Benjamin Porter graduated from UC Davis in 2020 with a BA in Music and a BS in Environmental Policy Analysis & Planning. He is originally from Seattle, WA. 

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About The Author

Koda is an incoming senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

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