By Lois Yoo
ALAMEDA, CA – A man was sentenced here in Alameda County Superior Court Friday to 15 years in state prison for 17 charges, including second degree robbery and possession of a firearm, in Chinatown.
Judge Andrew Steckler spent considerable time justifying the sentence.
Jacob Colbert was found guilty for second degree robbery, though on possession of a firearm by a felon he was acquitted. And lastly, another charge of shooting at an inhabited dwelling was found to be true.
Judge Steckler commented, “An elderly gentleman with grandchildren, two of them are approached, one with the gun, one with the taser. Robbed. Tased during a robbery.
“That’s egregious on the streets of Chinatown…an elderly gentleman…and two other victims, his grandchildren. And then later at the time police catch up to you, they find a taser in the car. They find a gun in the car. They’re yours. At least one of those things are yours. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m basing that on your reaction, Mr. Colbert,” the judge said to the defendant.
Judge Steckler further said, “But in the course of this standoff, you terrorize a neighbor by cutting into her ceiling. That’s a burglary of some kind but it’s never charged. How horrifying could that be for that person.”
Based on the facts of the incident, Judge Steckler claims, “I don’t see in any way how I could not double the sentence and not give the five year prior. And I don’t see how I can get this to 11 years,” in reference how he and counsel went back and forth on whether the defendant should be sentenced to either 11 or 15 years.
Judge Steckler claimed, “Look, I’ve given a lot of thought to this sentence. A lot. And frankly, when you look at all the facts and circumstances of the crime and the priors and the law as it applies, it’s my judgment that the only viable sentences in this case are 15 years state prison or 11 years state prison.
“I don’t think there’s anything in between those two sentences mathematically, legally. But to get to 11 years, I’d have to turn backflips and somersaults better than Simone Biles on the balance beam to justify it. Given all the actors and aggravation,” the judge explained, in reference to Biles, the U.S. Olympic gymnast.
Judge Steckler also pointed out the fact that the defendant has had a history of trouble with the law.
“There’s prior felony convictions all relating to guns. You were placed on probation initially for that case and probation was revoked and you went to prison. You failed to appear for two years. And when you resurface, it’s in a high speed chase, endangering other people’s lives,” the judge stressed.
“The jury verdict…It doesn’t mean they found you to be the getaway driver. They may have. It only means they couldn’t find beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the gunman. Or they couldn’t find beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the taser man, which you very well could have been one or the other. That wasn’t found. I’m only considering the circumstances of the robbery,” he added.
Judge Steckler expressed, “I don’t want to just lock you up and throw away the key if I don’t have to, but I don’t see how I can avoid it.”
According to the prosecution, the elderly victim “didn’t want to face the defendant again.”
Defendant Colbert shared a few inaudible words due to technical difficulties with the courtroom’s online audio.
“Having to go through such a traumatizing ordeal…I hope that the courts can have… I will be on my best behavior and do anything I could… God bless you all,” Colbert said, who was identified by the elderly victim as the one who committed the assault against him and his grandchildren.
Judge Steckler clarified, “I’m not doing that. I’m not basing my sentence on gun use or taser use for Mr. Colbert. I think that would violate the law, so I’m not doing that. I don’t intend to violate dual use. You haven’t convinced me how I can avoid it. I don’t want to do this.”
According to the prosecutor, there was someone in charge of driving the getaway vehicle and then another two as the actual robbers.
The DA objected to the 11-year sentence based on the fact that “the victim was vulnerable, outnumbered, and elderly. He was getting into the car. He was with his grandchildren. It was a callous robbery with the use of the weapons. There was an indication of planning given that there was a getaway driver. That they approached the victim from behind. He had a Rolex watch.”
At this time, the defendant requested to speak up once more. His words were again inaudible in the courtroom’s online audio.
Judge Steckler chose to deny probation and sentenced the defendant to 15 years in state prison.
Once more, the defendant spoke but his words were inaudible.
Judge Steckler expressed his sympathy for the defendant. “I don’t do this. But I thought really long and hard about this. I really, really did. You will get out and you will have a life after your prison term because I see people serving much, much longer. So I wish you the best. I really do.”