Knife wielding, vandalism net probation

By Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat November 20, 2012 10:24 am

A Campo Seco man who allegedly entered a Valley Springs home May 6 with a knife and tried to break into a pregnant woman’s locked bedroom was sentenced Monday to three years’ probation on felony vandalism charges.

As part of a plea agreement, charges against Phillip Anthony Romero, 46, related to the incident — including threatening someone with a knife, criminal trespassing and public drunkenness — were dropped.

 

Romero’s sentence also included 340 days in jail, with credit granted for 170 days served and an equal amount of time for good conduct while in custody, effectively canceling the jail term.

According to court documents, a St. Andrews Road woman heard a window being broken, ran into her bedroom and locked herself in. Romero entered and walked upstairs, and banged on her bedroom door, records stated.

Police said he then got on top of the roof holding a knife. He eventually dropped the weapon, after repeated demands from deputies below, and yelled, “They are going to kill me, help me,” before jumping from the second-story roof and being apprehended, according to witness testimony.

Neighbors’ homes were also vandalized that evening by Romero, causing thousands of dollars in damages, according to a police report.

In a preliminary hearing in the case, Romero told the court he believed a contract had been taken out for his murder.

In October, Judge Thomas Smith ruled Romero competent to stand trial after a pair of Stockton psychiatrists evaluated him, with one finding him competent to face charges while another determined him to be “marginally” competent.

Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office administrators welcomed witnesses to the incident to June budget hearings. The call illustrated the seriousness of situations the department faces with a response time hindered by reduced staffing levels, administrators said.

A Probation Department sentencing report also called for a mental health evaluation of Romero.

Romero’s attorney, Cyril Ash, of Murphys, reminded Superior Court Judge John Martin on Monday that his client had already been submitted to multiple such evaluations.

“Whatever his methamphetamine abuse issue is, it seems to affect his mental health,” noted Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Seth Matthews.

Martin said probation will be advised that it may “benefit by review of prior assessments,” and thus may not need to order another for Romero.

Romero may be forced to pay an estimated $4,000 in restitution costs to victims of the vandalism, identified as Roger Jones and Geraldine Gantgen, of Valley Springs. A hearing date for determining the restitution amount will be set at 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 3, in Department 1 of the Calaveras County Superior Court.

Gantgen said she could not attend Monday’s hearing.

She said the damage to the townhome unit she owns was extensive, included a full re-carpeting, and the frightened tenants moved away the day after the incident.