Parties Not on Same Page Regarding New Felony Charge against Accused

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By Daniella Dueñas

WOODLAND, CA – “It doesn’t sound like the parties are on the same page yet,” Judge Peter M. Williams stated in Yolo County Superior Court Monday, as both parties deliberated what should be done regarding the case of Marcus Daniel Tafoya.

The parties could not seem to agree on an appropriate response regarding a new, open felony the accused had not pled to.

Tafoya was in court, awaiting his hearing with Attorney Ava D. Landers, stepping in for lead attorney James Granucci. His hearing was a review of the three felonies he allegedly committed, including receiving stolen property, theft and unauthorized use of vehicle, and possession of controlled substance.

“All right,” began Judge Williams, “I show three different cases on for sentencing… all terms of probation.”

Deputy District Attorney Caryn Warren interjected, explaining, “No, your Honor. Case 1682 is still set for pre-hearing conference.” At this point, there appeared to be some confusion in the court about the status of this felony.

DDA Warren emphasized that if Tafoya did not accept AIC (Addiction Intervention Court), she wanted to set this felony charge for preliminary hearing.

“The sentencing is just for three cases. I don’t know about the fourth case. Are we not ready to do the sentencing on these then?” questioned Judge Williams.

“I thought we were,” said Attorney Landers. “But I wasn’t aware of the other case. And so I don’t have instructions from Mr. Granucci on the case. We were prepared to move on to sentencing for the three cases if the district attorney isn’t willing to put him on probation in that case. He’s time served on the other three cases, actually more than time served.”

The issue was that, although Tafoya did serve time, he still did not complete AIC or mental health court (MHC) and therefore that portion of the case was unresolved.

DDA Warren spoke up, explaining, “We were set for him to go into a DHA status and go onto AIC last week in Department 11. We wanted to see today if he could get into mental health court. If he doesn’t want to do AIC, I still have an open felony that he has not plead to that I would like set for preliminary hearing and that I would ask he not be released on that case.”

However, it seemed that there was still more to resolve. The question of whether or not Tafoya wanted to do AIC or get into MHC had not been answered. “There’s a couple things going on here,” stated Judge Williams, whether he wants to get in and whether or not he’s been evaluated yet.”

According to Attorney Landers, they did look into switching and Tafoya was in AIC. The AIC team, though, believed it would be more appropriate for the accused to remain in AIC and go back to Walter’s House. The issue is that the accused does not want to return to Walter’s House.

The defense did not realize that there was an outstanding felony that had no plea, noting, “I think Mr. Granucci may have forgotten about the other felony, I’m not sure. But at that point, he just wanted to be sentenced. Unless Ms. Warren is willing to give him probation with all of his extra credits that’s got, built up over the last month.”

“What do you wanna do Ms. Warren?” questioned Judge Williams.

“If he’s not gonna accept AIC, I am not offering probation. I understand that probation recommended probation on the three other cases, but he picked up a new felony, and that case was not taken into consideration by probation,” established Warren. She remained firm on her opinion of the case.

“It doesn’t sound like the parties are on the same page yet,” Judge Williams concluded.

Landers spoke up again, to make a case for her client’s probation. “He’s already got over 30 days” in custody. “I’m asking the court to consider SOR [supervised OR]. Mr. Tafoya has had two separate day 24 hour passes for family. Two deaths in his family recently. He followed exactly what Judge Fall said and instructed.”

Before more deliberation from the attorneys, Judge Williams asked for Probation Officer Denoix’s opinion on the case.

“Your Honor, regarding SOR, I offered the sentencing report on Mr. Tafoya. I did see he had compliance with temporary releases. However, that’s not to say there’s no concern about strictly just releasing him with no services. I would say SOR coupled with some sort of treatment… but I’d defer to a DA.”

Despite what Landers stated, prosecutor Warren remained firm in her conviction. She emphasized that, despite his progress, he recently had committed that new felony. “Now he’s just saying he wants to do probation. There should be a prison term,” Warren argued.

Judge Williams settled this by setting the next hearing for Oct. 3, for further sentencing and a preliminary hearing regarding the new case.

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About The Author

Daniella Dueñas is a recent graduate from the University of California, Davis. She double-majored in Political Science and Sociology, with an emphasis on law and society. Her interest is primarily in immigration law, however, she is also interested in criminal law and justice. Daniella plans to attend law school in the future, but is working towards getting a certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program.

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