General Crime


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An Occidental man faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after a Sonoma County jury this afternoon convicted him of assault with intent to sexually assault a woman during a burglary at her home.The jury also found Jaime Hernandez-Gonzalez, 24, guilty of resisting or obstructing a police officer but acquitted him of evading police.The case was unusual because of the stipulated life term for the felony charge of assault with intent to commit a sexual assault during commission of a burglary and because one of the jurors excused himself Wednesday during deliberations after admitting he read a news account that mentioned the life term.The juror told Judge Gary Medvigy outside the presence of the other jurors that the stiff term bothered him and he could not render a fair, unbiased verdict.The juror was dismissed and the panel started deliberations with an alternate juror Thursday. The remaining jurors were not aware why the male juror excused himself.Deputy Public Defender Bill Marioni said the charge has been on the books only since 2006 and is part of Jessica’s Law approved by California voters that imposes harsher penalties for sexual offenses. Marioni said he will ask for a new trial or ask Medvigy to vacate the verdict and find his client guilty of a lesser offense, such as residential burglary, assault or attempted rape, and impose a six-year term. Jurors also had the option of finding Hernandez-Gonzales guilty of those lesser offenses. Arguments on those issues are scheduled for April 14.”The (life) sentence is disproportionate for what he did,” Marioni said after the verdict.Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders said the jury followed the law and she is pleased with the verdict.One of the male jurors, who did not want to give his name, said the panel’s deliberations were emotional but jurors “bent over backwards to do the right thing.” Testimony during the trial indicated Hernandez-Gonzalez entered a Cotati home occupied by two women after he followed them home in his car. Once inside the house he removed his clothing and held it in one hand while he pulled down the pajama pants and underwear of a 21-year-old woman with his other hand in her bedroom early in the morning of Dec. 22, 2007.The woman kicked at Hernandez-Gonzalez and she and her roommate called police. Hernandez-Gonzalez fled the house, drove through two red lights and was arrested in his car after a traffic stop by Cotati police a short time later.Hernandez-Gonzalez was not fully clothed and admitted to police he was in the women’s house, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said.

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