By Alex Klimenko
VENTURA, CA – Judge Bruce Young here in Ventura County Superior Court last Friday considered compelling interpretations of the significance of where an attempted robbery took place as well as the defendant’s criminal history during the sentencing of Daniel Garcia.
Garcia pleaded guilty May 3 to the charge of attempted robbery. He was sentenced to two years.
Deputy District Attorney Theresa Pollara argued for the midterm sentence, noting a preference for the midterm sentence based on the number of victims.
“The longer he is locked up the safer the public is because he is not going to stop if you look at the victim list in this case there is 15 victims two of which were teenagers who worked at Chick-fil-A,” Pollara said.
DDA Pollara then described the defendant’s criminal history, and based on it, the DDA argued “this is not someone who deserves clemency, this is not someone who will somehow reform. People who chose to commit crimes rather than being part of society belong in prison for as long as possible.”
Deputy Public Defender Russel Baker argued for the low term sentence, largely because the defendant made an early guilty plea.
Baker added to his argument based on where the robbery took place.
“I would also tell the court that I believe that’s the appropriate sentence because what occurred, in this case, is that Mr. Garcia walked up to a drive-through window and I think that’s important because that is a location which is relatively safer for an employee than the counter inside.”
PD Baker said that circumstances surrounding the attempted robbery as well as how the defendant felt warranted a low term sentence.
“Additionally Mr. Garcia did not have a weapon which I also think is somewhat mitigating. He passed a note and what he explained upon his arrest and to probation is that he immediately realized what a terrible thing he was doing and he just walked away,” said Baker.
Garcia then addressed the court “I had wrote a letter to Chick-fil-A apologizing on my wrongdoing,” adding, “It was only like 10 seconds I was there and I left and it was wrong. I caught myself what am I doing. I left…no one got hurt, no one nothing happened I didn’t got nothing. I am sorry what happened. That’s all I am trying to say.”
The DDA stated ,“I think the defendant’s story is very interesting.” But added, “Because what really happened was he came up there is a teenager working a window which exposes her to the public without being inside the restaurant where she is more protected by the people she works with, and the other patrons comes up to the weakest point at that restaurant.”
Eventually Judge Young commented, “Well, we can debate the best way to rob a fast-food restaurant, and drive thru ad nauseam. I decline to do that. I am not going to attempt to challenge or climb in the mind of Mr. Garcia.”
The judge further added, “Did he walk away because he realized he wasn’t going to get any money, or did he walk away because he changed his mind, and thought this is not a good idea, I’m not going to make any particular conclusion.”
Judge Young justified the sentence while he acknowledged the DDA’s earlier arguments.
“Over the People’s objections I don’t believe a two year department of corrections commitment followed by three years of parole supervision which could result in return to incarceration upon that is any insignificant matter.
“Although I recognize Ms. Pollara, this is a long and lengthy record for Mr. Garcia in his early 40s, and many of them are misdemeanors, and he does not seem to be learning as fast as we would like,” added the judge, who sentenced Garcia to two years in prison with credit for time served.