By Amy Berberyan
VENTURA, CA – During a hearing and sentencing trial last week in Ventura County Superior Court, Judge Bruce Young worked to balance strong mitigating factors with victims injured in a DUI (driving under the influence) incident and the felony committed by the accused.
Judge Young said that the accused’s “lack of criminal history” served as a mitigating factor to his sentence, but still ordered him to jail for 210 days.
The judge had received letters in support of Raymond Estrada , including one that revealed his participation in a group program meant to “correct substance abuse issues.”
Assistant Public Defender Rebekah Mathis requested less than 365 days in custody for her client. Mathis claimed her client was 56 and “lived his entire life without committing crimes.” She added that, outside of this incident—which occurred in 2017—he has been a law-abiding citizen.
“He has got his alcohol problems under control,” said PD Mathis. She added that he sought treatment on his own and that this incident had occurred when he had hit rock bottom: he had been extremely depressed, had been able to find no stable place to live, and drank regularly.
PD Mathis said that the accused was apologetic to his victim and had shown remorse to her attorney and his probation officer. Furthermore, he had overcome his drinking problems since 2017 and gotten his life together.
She requested that the suspension of his driver’s license for one year be delayed one day so he would be able to drive home. Judge Young gave the man the weekend to keep his license to get his affairs in order.
PD Mathis also said she caught a mistake on the files; the accused was to go to a first-time probation program rather than a multiple-time one, meaning he would only serve three months in jail. Judge Young corrected this and praised her.
PD Mathis argued this was a “rare occasion that we see someone of [the accused’s] age have no criminal record” proceed to have this sort of incident, and then progress from it in the positive manner that he did.
She acknowledged that he had committed a serious offense that had resulted in injuries, but added “I do think this might be one of those cases—those rare cases—where jail time is not going to serve any purpose.”
Deputy District Attorney Lisa Lytikainen disagreed, and asked for the full sentence.
Judge Young acknowledged that the collision had injured a “number of people,” resulting in bodily injury which could add up to nine years in jail.
“I do recognize the mitigating factors,” Judge Young said. “The gentlemen born in the 1960s has no criminal record whatsoever.”
But he added that a few aggravating factors—the man had been driving with a “blood alcohol [of] 0.138%” and that “nobody got killed, but several people got hurt.”
The judge gave the man 36 months of felony probation, balancing mitigating and aggravating factors.
Judge Young sentenced the man to 210 days in county jail as “motivation to not resort to drinking and driving,” adding, “You should be commended for what you’ve accomplished so far. You still got 210 days to serve, which is a reminder of the consequences of this.”
May 30 is the remand date for this trial. He also received, as stated, three years of felony probation.