DA Asks Judge for Felony Charges, but Not Willing to File Such Claims on Her Own

By Sam Zou

RIVERSIDE, CA – Deputy District Attorney Ashley Loret asked the judge here in Riverside County Superior Court this week to try the defendant with a felony because of his “egregious” behavior.

But Judge Otis Sterling, III, denied Loret’s request and insisted on the defendant’s misdemeanor as a “trespass based on the records I see.”

Christopher Michael Boni is currently charged with a misdemeanor for unlawfully entering into a non-commercial building and vandalism on Nov. 24, 2019. Prior to these current charges, Boni had no criminal history.

Allegedly, the defendant, along with co-defendant Evan Randal Boiko, impersonated the police and forcibly broke into the victim’s residence in the middle of the night over arguments about his ex-girlfriend.

On July 8, private defense attorney Andrew Tanner appeared in court on behalf of the absent defendant and his attorney Carl K. Osborne.

Just as the judge assumed that both parties were prepared to yield their time and continue this matter on another date, DDA Loret referred to the details of this case and claimed that Boni’s behaviors were “really egregious for just a misdemeanor.”

Allegedly, Boni and co-defendant Boiko impersonated law enforcement in an attempt to gain access to the victim’s phone records.

Afterwards, both of the defendants went to the victim’s house and presumably intended to enter into the victim’s bedroom in the middle of the night when the victim was sound asleep, fortunately in another room different from what the co-defendants broke into. According to the reports, Boni attempted to assault the victim.

Presenting the incident detailed in the reports, Loret concluded that Boni’s conduct was more than a misdemeanor and that “these co-defendants are getting leniency from our office…tried as a misdemeanor.”

Loret asked the court to reconsider the severity of this case and evaluate the message a mere misdemeanor charge would send to the community.

“People aren’t going to be held accountable for their actions,” said Loret as she describes the concerns from the victim’s community regarding the case’s status.

The judge, however, did not budge. Perhaps confused on why Loret brought such newfound appeals in front of the court, Sterling responded that “I don’t control that [the severity of the charges].”

Sterling was unwilling to grant Loret’s request for a felony charge on two grounds. First, he stated that “if the People believe that this is a felony, the People have the ability to file that charge or remove it from consideration.”

Loret has the ability to file for a felony charge herself if she believes such charges are appropriate under the circumstances and allegations provided to her.

Second, Sterling made it clear that with the current statements and reports provided in front of him, all he saw was a trespass. There were no assault charges against the defendant, as Boni allegedly hit the victim only with a pillow and some clothes.

Because Loret can file for a felony charge on her own and because the current conduct of the defendant can only be described as “a trespass,” the judge questioned Loret, asking “why are the People not doing that [file the charges herself] if it’s egregious?”

Loret disclosed her consideration to refile this case as a felony but later decided not to for reasons she left unexplained. Loret attempted to ask the judge to re-evaluate the severity of such a case while appearing unwilling to file a felony charge herself.

As a response, the judge commented that Loret’s request only seemed to suggest the judge was “not giving due consideration to the facts and circumstances of the case, and the rights of the victims, which I most certainly will do,” emphasized Judge Sterling.

Sterling reiterated that, given what he saw, the whole incident so far can only be described as a trespass. There were no physical injuries. Although the co-defendants seemed to hit the victim, only pillows and clothes were involved.

Seeing that the previous remuneration of Boni’s acts did not warrant a felony charge, Loret mentioned the co-defendants’ acts of vandalism when they broke into the victim’s door.

The judge, however, denied Loret’s claims and noted it was the other co-defendant (Boiko) who single-handedly broke the door before both entered into the house.

In the end, the judge upheld his decision to retain this case as a misdemeanor charge, given that Boni had no criminal history and with the positive testimonials given by his community.

If tried as a felony, explained Sterling, he also had to consider whether Boni’s records “should be tainted forever with a criminal conviction” in his life.

“If the situation is (that) egregious, then I put the charge and authority in the hands of the prosecution to file that charge, if it’s warranted,” concluded Judge Sterling.

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