General Crime

*Jaime Hernandez Gonzalez Sentenced to 6-Year Term for Sonoma Assault Case

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An Occidental man who once faced life in prison for assault with intent to commit a sex crime during a burglary was sentenced this morning to six years in prison by the judge who created a controversy by reducing that charge to a lesser offense.  A Sonoma County Superior Court jury convicted 24-year-old Jaime Hernandez Gonzalez in March of assaulting a Cotati woman with the intent to commit rape, sodomy, oral copulation or another sex crime in the bedroom ofher home he burglarized on Dec. 22, 2007. Under Proposition 83, California’s sexually violent predator law approved by voters in 2006, assault with intent to commit a sex crime during a burglary carries a mandatory term of life in prison with parole. Trial Judge Gary Medvigy, however, dismissed that charge, rulinglast month the life prison term was “cruel and unusual punishment.”  He found Gonzalez guilty of the lesser offense of residential burglary, which carries a maximum six-year term. Medvigy also noted inmates serving life terms are almost never granted parole.  His ruling created a controversy, with the public both praising and condemning his decision in the local media.  Medvigy modified his ruling several days later, vacating the burglary conviction and finding Gonzalez guilty of assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy, oral copulation or another sex crime but without the burglary allegation, which also carries a maximum six-year term but requires Gonzalez to register as a sex offender. During a lengthy sentencing hearing this morning, the victim’s roommate, who also was present in the Cotati home at the time but was not assaulted, criticized Medvigy’s ruling regarding the lesser offense.  The woman, known as Jane Doe 2, said Medvigy was overlooking how Gonzalez’s actions affected her life and her roommate’s. “I feel like we’re being punished for fighting back,” she said. “We did what we had to do to defend ourselves and we’re being punished for it. He’s not being held accountable,” Doe 2 said.  Gonzalez followed the woman home from a club and sat outside the house 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 1-year-old Jane Doe 1 with his other hand. The woman kicked at Gonzalez and she and Jane Doe 2 ran out of the house but returned and called police.Gonzalez also immediately 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. “This was an attack that was unfathomable,” said Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders. “Luckily there were two women there,” she said. “The court and the defense seem to be undermining the facts as they happened,” Sanders said, still arguing Gonzalez should face a life term. “I ask the court to reinstate the jury’s verdict,” Sanders said, insisting the crime was a sexual assault during a burglary.  Medvigy rebuffed Sanders’ argument. He said other, similar cases in California in which the defendant received a life term involved violence and serious injury to the victims by defendants who were recidivists or sexually violent predators.  Gonzalez has no prior offenses other than a traffic ticket, Medvigy said.  Lynnette Brown, a legal clerk representing the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office, asked Medvigy to impose a four-year term. She said the crime was not sophisticated and lacked planning and Gonzalez did not possess a weapon.  The jury also convicted Gonzalez of obstructing a police officer. Medvigy sentenced him to a consecutive one-year, county jail term for that offense but credited him with time already served in jail awaiting trial.  Gonzalez also has 308 days’ credit for time served that will beapplied toward his six-year prison sentence. Deputy Public Defender Bill Marioni said Gonzalez will likely serve about four and a half years of his six-year term.
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