Leukemia Diagnosis Leads Judge to Strike Sentencing Enhancement

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By Emma Kantor

WOODLAND, CA – Noting it’s not his “practice to strike habitual criminals,” Yolo County Superior Court Judge Dave Rosenberg’s struck—threw out—Jessie Reneaux’s five-year enhancement as a result of the man’s recent medical diagnosis.

Reneaux appeared telephonically in court Tuesday for a review on his case, in which he was convicted of several felonies including a repeat corporal injury offense and intimidating a witness/victim.

During this review, Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino called Jessie Reseaux’s older sister, Samantha Reneaux, to the stand.

The sibling testified about the abuse and neglect she and her brothers faced over the course of their childhood, including being locked in a room, left in cars outside bars while their mother struggled with alcohol abuse, and physical violence inflicted upon by their father at the young age of four and five years old.

The testimony was very emotional and Samantha Reneaux broke down in tears on the stand as her brother unmuted himself to say, “I love you, sis. Be strong.”

Notably, Samantha Reneaux shared how, since prior terms that her brother has served in prison, he has changed “emotionally.”

The siblings, she said, now speak almost every day, or every other day, and his attitude has changed from an “I don’t care” kind of attitude to one in which he is eager to live life.

However, with this being said, Reneaux’s life will be cut short. He was recently diagnosed with leukemia and, for this reason as well as the childhood trauma endured, defense counsel asked the court to strike the five-year enhancement for his repeat offender charges.

Deputy District Attorney Andrea Zambor counter-argued that both siblings encountered the same trauma, but apparently only Jessie Reneaux acted in a violent way and got himself into criminal trouble.

In her closing argument, PD Pelochino said that “if the court finds that childhood trauma is linked to the committing offense, the court shall grant the relief requested unless the court finds that he’s a danger.”

The penal code does not consider the findings of the actions of siblings, or other children in similar abusive situations, because every child has experiences that are different, which Pelochino told the court is common sense.

After commending both attorneys for presenting their cases very well, Judge Rosenberg said he considered the factors of the case including the age of the defendant at the time, the offenses, his behavior while in prison and what Judge Rosenberg said was the most compelling factor—Jessie Reneaux’s medical conditions.

Ultimately, Judge Rosenberg used his discretion under section 1385 of the penal code to strike the five-year enhancement for habitual criminals.

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About The Author

Emma Kantor is a second year undergraduate student at UC Davis pursuing a bachelor of science degree in Managerial Economics. She is passionate about her education and advocating for others. She intends to attend law school after finishing her undergraduate degree.

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