‘Desperate’ Defendant Offers Guilty Plea in Last Effort to Proceed with Case

By Ava Schwartzapfel

RIVERSIDE, CA— After having been in custody for more than a year now, Jesus Beltran offered a guilty plea to the prosecution as a last ditch effort to move forward with his case, his attorney told the judge here last week in Riverside County Superior Court.

Beltran, who was present in court, was originally arrested on counts of robbery and vandalism. He was brought into court for a trial readiness hearing regarding Mental Health Diversion.

Since his original arrest, Beltran has remained in custody for more than a year. This delay is due in part to delayed proceedings regarding Penal Code section 1368, which concerns a defendant’s mental competence regarding standing in trial.

While Beltran has remained in custody, his son has been placed in the Los Angeles Foster Care system. Beltran has received multiple notices for hearings regarding his parental rights, yet is unable to attend because of his in-custody status.

“He has reached a point of almost desperation,” Deputy Public Defender Jeffrey Economides said.

Due to this urgency, Economides explains, his client has requested that he present to the People a guilty plea to these charges. His only requirement to the motion is that the People dismiss a prior strike that the defendant has, dating back to 2006.

If the People were to reject this motion, the defense would quickly proceed to hold a Mental Health Diversion hearing, hoping to continue this progress.

Economides’ request for the court, said the DPD, is for a readiness conference regarding this motion to be held on Nov. 17. This, the DPD noted, will give the DDA “time to look over his [Beltran’s] prior history and think of the offer.”

In the case that this is rejected, the defense asks to have a “backup formal hearing” set for this case on Dec. 2. Economides explained how he and the prosecutor on this case, Lauren Donovan, currently have another matter on that date which they foresee being cancelled.

Prosecutor Donovan confirmed that this information was true, and that this date would work for her, assuming those same circumstances.

The Judge, Otis Sterling, then had Economides confirm these conditions with his client. Beltran affirmed that he is willing to waive his right to a “speedy preliminary hearing on both of the felony matters in order to come back on Nov. 17 and Dec. 12.”

After this matter was handled, Judge Sterling thanked the defense and prosecution for their cooperation on the matter and apologized to Beltran for the situation occurring with his son.

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