COURT WATCH: Judge Selects Middle-Term Sentence Despite Defense Deeming It an ‘Unserious Robbery’

LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Jenna Tooley

LOS ANGELES, CA- During a sentencing hearing in the Los Angeles County Superior Court last week, Judge Lana S. Kim briefly considered the lighter sentence for a man accused of stealing sunglasses, but gave him six years in state prison, as requested by Deputy District Attorney Tim Henderson.

The defense noted two prior felonies by the accused—about a quarter century ago.

Prior to the start of the case, Judge Kim stated, off the official record, “after reading the People’s brief I don’t have a good reason to impose a low term, and I’m inclined to impose the People’s recommendation of the middle term.”

The accused, who was homeless, allegedly walked into a sunglasses store in Santa Monica and selected four pairs of sunglasses, and tried to walk out of the store without paying.

The complaining witness, who was watching the store, became involved in an altercation with the accused. The complaining witness maintained sight of the accused until he was detained by police. The accused was charged with robbery.

According to Deputy Public Defender Nicole Wong Chong the “robbery charge…I don’t think it is the most serious robbery…he (accused) didn’t outwardly initially assault the complaining witness, adding there was another count of being armed with a weapon, which was a pocket knife, but since the knife wasn’t open that specific charge was dismissed.”

DDA Henderson noted the accused’s prior criminal history as a determining factor of the middle-term sentence, in addition to partaking in an altercation with the complaining witness on the scene before he was detained.

DPD Wong Chong reaffirmed “there was no intention to use violence,” but the accused also had two prior strikes, one from 22 years ago and the other from 29 years ago. DPD Wong Chong requested to remove these strikes.

Despite DDA Henderson’s brief proposing a middle-term sentence, DPD Wong Chong asserted it was “inappropriate…the court should consider removing both previous strikes and give a low term of two years.”

DPD Wong Chong countered that the complaining witness instigated the incident, and “should have let him (accused) go… initial intent wasn’t to engage in violence.”

Judge Kim disagreed with the public defender and sentenced the accused to a middle and aggregate term of six years in state prison. The DPD said they were “going to file an appeal by the end of the day.”

About The Author

Jenna Tooley is a third-year senior studying Political Science with a concentration in American Politics and minors in Global Studies and Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has a passion for social justice and advocacy work and intends on pursuing Law School in the very near future, with a potential specialization in Criminal Law in aims of dismantiling the stigma around incarcerated people and addressing the root causes of recidvism to provides incarcerated people resources and rehabilitation to independently function upon re-entry into society. Outside of her advocacy work she enjoys traveling and sightseeing, aborbing the ambiance of coffee shops, and thifting as a form of self-care.

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