A woman who stabbed another woman outside of the Downtown Plaza Laundromat in Sonora on Dec. 20 was sentenced to one year in the Tuolumne County Jail after pleading guilty to criminal threats on Wednesday in Superior Court.
Amanda Burback, 28, dressed in a white and black striped jail jumpsuit and wearing glasses, smiled for much of the hearing while seated next to her attorney, public defender Hallie Campbell.
Burback was charged with attempted murder after stabbing a woman twice in the abdomen. The attempted murder charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement decided by counsel on Jan. 9.
According to the agreement, Burback would plead guilty to felony criminal threats and an enhancement of using a knife in the commission of a crime.
Burback faced up to three years in state prison and five years probation.
Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Kevin M. Seibert said on Wednesday that he was inclined to show leniency to Burback because she was defending herself from the woman.
“The circumstances that led to it were unusual,” he said. “It doesn’t seem she’s a risk on her history.”
Burback was homeless at the time, Campbell said. The knife was something she carried to protect herself.
“There’s a serious issue of self-defense in this case,” Campbell said.
Campbell added that Burback voluntarily offered the plea before her preliminary hearing to avoid a court proceeding with a jury and she had no history of violence in jail.
Burback’s father, mother, brother and stepfather watched the proceedings from the rear of the courtroom.
The stepfather, Sonora resident Ron Navarette, said the family respected Seibert’s acknowledgement that Burback was defending herself. The family would seek a support system for Burback once she was released from jail and placed on probation, Navarette said.
“The courts were fair and they’re giving her a chance at the future,” he said.
Seibert said Burback also acknowledged drug abuse and she would enroll in a program following her release.
Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke said a probation report’s characterization of Burback as young and without a criminal history overlooked the inherent violence of the stabbing.
“In that moment, she intended to cause significant harm to that person,” Jenecke said.
The prosecutor said before Burback stabbed the victim twice she yelled out, “I’ll [expletive] kill you.”
At the time of her arrest, Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel said Burback and the woman were arguing on morning of Dec. 20 because Burback believed the victim was having an affair with her boyfriend.
Later in the morning at 10 a.m., Burback stabbed the victim with a folding pocket knife. The victim sustained non-life threatening puncture wounds.
One of the lacerations the woman sustained was at least the depth of an Q-Tip, Jenecke said.
Burback was arrested about an hour later outside of the Sonora Gold Lodge on Stockton Road.
During the investigation, the victim did not identify herself as involved, VanderWiel said. The victim was wearing thick clothing and it was not obvious she had sustained stab wounds.
Jenecke recommended that Seibert sentence Burback to one year, four months in county jail for criminal threats and an additional year for the enhancement. Campbell recommended that she receive six months in jail.
Seibert said Burback would receive a strike on her record from the conviction along with the one year sentence.
Burback earned credit for 49 days in the custody of the jail since her arrest.
Burback was ordered to pay $890 in fines plus additional fees and $300 restitution. Her formal probation term started immediately and she would remain on it for five years, Jenecke said.