By Peter Eibert
SACRAMENTO, CA – Judge Patrick Marlette denied developmentally disabled 22-year-old Jordan Ware probation here in Sacramento County Superior Court Friday, citing Ware’s unscrupulous attempts to hide his culpability from law enforcement for his alleged crimes.
On August 13, 2020, Jordan Ware hit and killed a man just outside the Sacramento Valley Train Station while driving a truck for his job. Ware subsequently fled the scene of the accident.
The prosecution said Ware denied any involvement in the crash and created an “elaborate story” to support his denial when questioned by law enforcement about his involvement in the crash. Law enforcement only found out about Ware’s involvement when Ware’s father brought law enforcement to the truck Ware drove in the accident in an attempt to clear his son’s name.
Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Kristin Hayes argued that Ware should serve the four year minimum sentence for his alleged crimes instead of being released on probation “based on the loss of life [and] the failure to accept responsibility for his actions.”
Hayes emphatically asserted that the defense brief’s claim that Ware “went out and sought law enforcement” to take responsibility for his actions were inaccurate. She stated that Ware only went to law enforcement “to try to make sure they knew it wasn’t in fact him [who killed the victim and fled the scene].”
Allen Sawyer, Ware’s defense attorney, disagreed. He argued that Ware should be released on probation, contrary to the probation report’s recommendation of imposing the minimum four year sentence.
Sawyer criticized the “glaring” omission of Ware’s developmental disability in the probation report’s recommendation.
Sawyer emphasized the significance of this fact because of the purported effect that Ware’s developmental disability had on his decision making during and after the crime, stating that “this is a case that someone [Ware] has very diminished capacity, [because he] is developmentally disabled. It directly impacts the decision making that we see here.”
However, Hayes objected and asserted that “the probation report actually mentions that the defendant’s mother indicated that he had been diagnosed [with the developmental disability].”
In addition, Sawyer questioned whether Ware, given his developmental disability, should have been required to drive for his job – or even had a job at all.
He especially scrutinized Ware’s “inappropriate placement” into a truck driving job that was too complicated and stressful for him, which included “monitoring GPS directions and being under time schedules to make deliveries.”
Judge Marlette even concurred on that point, stating how previous doctor’s evaluations of Ware held that “Mr. Ware does not have the skills to have a job [and] that he should not have a job.”
Sawyer ultimately asked Judge Marlette to “fashion a sentence that takes into account the profound developmental disability that [Ware] suffers from that obviously impacted the decision making that occurred in this case,” and to “appropriately fashion a result that’ll take into account that he’ll never be put into this position again.”
Before making his decision, Judge Marlette lamented over the three tragedies in the case.
The first tragedy was the death of “the 51-year-old [victim] on his way to the AMTRAK.”
The second tragedy was that “Mr. Ware is suffering. This is a huge dent in his life, in his independent living, [and] in his enjoyment of life.”
The third tragedy that Judge Marlette specified was the most striking, which he said “is not spelled out right there [in the case materials], but by golly it’s clear as day between the lines.” The third tragedy is how Ware’s parents failed him by allowing him to have a job despite doctor’s evaluations stating otherwise.
Judge Marlette said that if Ware had not fled the scene of the crime, or if he had “driven to his parents’ house and said ‘I’m scared, this is what happened. What do I do now?’ [And then] everybody goes to the police and says ‘hey, here’s what happened; we’re so sorry,’” then this would be “a real tough call about probation.”
However, based on Ware’s actions, Judge Marlette said he was left with no choice but to sentence Ware to four years in state prison, thus denying him probation, despite Ware’s developmental disability and how it “fit into this situation.”
Judge Marlette emphasized that “what might’ve been probation had he gone to his parents and then called the authorities is going to turn into four years in state prison, and that’s a tragedy.”
Ware will likely serve only two years of the four years sentence due to accumulating 680 days of credit toward reducing his sentence. Three hundred forty days are for time already served, and 340 days are from conduct credits.