By Eric Rodriguez
SANTA BARBARA, CA – One man here in Santa Barbara County Superior Court this week pleaded not guilty and was released pretrial—another man took a plea bargain is now set for a prison term.
In the first case, Julentino Lopez appeared in court via Zoom this week, with a court-assigned interpreter, to what was scheduled to be his release date, but quickly turned into a reassignment for the next day.
Lopez has been charged with the possession and sale of drugs along with the possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as the obstruction and resistance of a public peace officer. Lopez pleaded not guilty.
In the previous court appearance on Aug. 23, Lopez’s private defense attorney, Meghan M Behrens, noted his pre-plea to the court. Despite having the pre-plea on file, no official plea was taken.
After intense frustration and bewilderment of the plea not being filed, Attorney Behrens was able to reassign the release date to the following day, rather than later in the week, with an in-person hearing to speed-up the paperwork for his release.
Before having the hearing set for an in-person hearing Lopez stated, “¿pero seguro? Para decirle a mi familia?” which was translated to the court by Jose Navarette as “But for sure right? So I can tell my family?”
In the second case, Phillip Hernandez, Jr., joined the courtroom via Zoom, after Lopez’s hearing, for a readiness and settlement conference with Judge Michael Carrozzo, and Hernandez’s attorney Robert Dahlstedt.
Hernandez is being charged with trespassing and vandalism, for the possession of burglary tools, the possession of drug paraphernalia, and the obstruction and resistance of a public peace officer.
He is also being charged with shoplifting and the possession of drugs-methamphetamine, along with being under the influence of a controlled substance which occurred on Aug 22.
During the session, Hernandez pleaded no contest, which was taken by Deputy District Attorney Wesley Meyer. Previous misdemeanor charges were dismissed.
Hernandez will receive the upper term of three years with one and a half in custody and the other year and a half in supervised parole.
A continued sentencing will take place Oct. 21.