By Leila Katibah
SANTA BARBARA, CA – The accused, at the end of a probation hearing here in Santa Barbara County Superior Court Friday, was found guilty of violating the terms of his probation and sent to county jail for about a year.
It could have been worse, he learned from the judge who told him “next time” he could go to prison for nine years.
After being convicted of two felony counts of dissuading a victim by threat and inflicting corporal injury on a spouse that occurred in 2018, and two enhancements due to prior felony charges, the accused was convicted and sentenced to nine years in state prison.
The district attorney’s office and former judge on the case, Judge Von Deroian, agreed to strike his prior strike “to allow him the opportunity to stay out on probation,” stated Deputy District Attorney Megan Chanda.
About a year later, the accused was charged with a misdemeanor for violating a protective court order after it was discovered that he had been in contact with the victim.
The terms of his probation included no contact with the victim, in addition to completion of a sober living program and a medication regimen for severe manic depression disorder.
DDA Chanda presented more than 2,000 pages of evidence showing text messages between the accused and his victim, whom he was ordered to have no contact with. No evidence of phone calls were found.
Because the accused shares children with the victim, defense attorney Steven R. Andrade stated most of the text messages pertained to the children.
“That is not true. Many of these messages are the defendant requesting to come to the stair base at the home, which he does often, if not daily, multiple times a week. He would be over at the home asking her for money,” clarified DDA Chanda.
“The defendant was a very active participant in these communications, requesting specifically that he comes to her home, for whatever reason, to eat dinner, to see the kids, or just get away from the sober living facility, which he shared that he does not like and did not want to be at,” continued DDA Chanda.
While claiming she was not trying to prove battery, DDA Chanda noted, “I think it is very telling when she is stating to him in a private text message that he’s hit her, and he doesn’t deny it after that.”
Violating the terms of the protective order could mean the accused has to serve the full nine-year prison sentence, but it’s “not something that should result in a nine-year prison sentence,” argued defense attorney Andrade.
In regard to the mother of his children, Andrade notes, “She hopes to at some point be able to have some kind of relationship counseling because these two are going to be involved in raising their kids.”
Judge Pauline Maxwell found him guilty of the probation violation, modifying the term to include 364 days in jail.
“But I will warn you… unless your attorney is able to modify the terms of the protective order so that you can have any communication with your ex-wife, if you do it again in violation, you will go to prison for nine years,” said Judge Maxwell to the accused.