An 18-year old Tuolumne woman who nearly drove a Mustang convertible multiple times into a man walking in downtown Sonora accepted a plea deal Friday for 150 days of electronic home monitoring and five years probation.
Shelby Walter, 18, of Tuolumne, pleaded guilty to felony assault in the incident that took place last October near the intersection of Lyons Street and South Shepherd Street.
Also in court Friday was Francisco Rico, 25, who is charged with two counts of assault likely to produce great bodily injury, two special allegations on the assault charges of inflicting GBI and felony battery with serious bodily injury.
Rico — along with a male juvenile — is accused of pummelling the victim in the face, head and body with his fists.
Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Samantha Arnerich said the victim was walking near Lyons Road and Dodge Lane when a white Mustang, driven by Walter and occupied by three passengers — including Rico and two juveniles — nearly hit him.
Rico and a male juvenile jumped out and attacked the victim after Walter stopped the car. Still reeling from the attack, the victim heard Rico yell, “go back, go back,” Arnerich said.
The driver returned to the scene and the car nearly hit the pedestrian again. Rico and the male juvenile clobbered the victim for a second time.
Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel said in October the driver of the car returned to the scene a third time, and the victim struck the car with a large branch as it passed him.
Throughout Arnerich’s statement, Walter looked down toward the table where she was seated.
Rico, holding a gray athletic satchel and wearing a red plaid shirt, looked toward Arnerich and folded his arms.
Arnerich explained the plea bargain would sentence Walter to five years probation and 150 days of electronic monitoring with an ankle bracelet. A five year protective order would be placed on the victim, Walters would be ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and pay restitution of a yet-to-be-determined amount.
A special allegation of inflicting GBI on the assault charge and an additional felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon would be dropped according to the plea bargain, Arnerich said.
Judge James A. Boscoe looked toward Arnerich for most of her statement, at times glancing over toward Walter and Rico.
“The facts are pretty egregious,” Boscoe said.
He entered a caveat into the record, noting he could deem the agreement inappropriate during the sentencing hearing, based on the weight of the charge facing Walter. He said he would review a probation report before making a decision, but would likely corroborate the agreement because it was endorsed by the victim.
If he rejected the offer, he said Walter could choose to go to trial.
“This client is 18 years old,” said Scott Gross, Walter’s attorney, to which Boscoe replied, “OK.”
Gross initially instructed Walter to make a West plea, which references a California Supreme Court case. A West plea would have amounted to a guilty plea while still asserting the innocence of the defendant and is comparable to a no contest plea.
“This is the first I’ve heard of this,” Arnerich said, noting the deal required Walter to take responsibility for the charge, and the West plea was retracted and a guilty plea made.
Boscoe also cautioned Walter if she were to violate the terms of her probation, she could face a state prison sentence of up to four years.
Arnerich said Rico deferred his decision on the plea bargain to his next hearing, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. April 17 in Department 4 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court.
Arnerich said she could not reveal specific details because the deal had not yet been entered into the court’s records.
She said it was similar to Walter’s and would likely fall between home electronic monitoring and state prison. She said she could not confirm that meant a term in county jail.
Arnerich said Rico’s attorney, David Beyersdorf, sought to review the victim’s medical records before a decision was made. The records indicated the victim sustained a concussion and bruising following the attack.
Rico’s next hearing is set as a preliminary hearing setting, which means if he rejects the deal, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.
The male juvenile involved in the attack was charged and sentenced to a confidential punishment, Arnerich said.
According to the VanderWiel in October, a 16-year old from Tuolumne was arrested on suspicion of felony battery with serious bodily injury and booked into the Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Facility.
The other juvenile in the vehicle was considered a witness and was not charged, Arnerich said.
Rico was arrested by the Sonora Police Department on suspicion of felony battery with serious bodily injury, but was originally charged with misdemeanor battery by the previous prosecutor on the case, Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter.
Rico was issued a $50,000 bail amount and was released from the Tuolumne County Jail on his own recognizance following his arraignment.
Walter was not arrested at the scene, but was issued a citation for having alcohol in her system while operating a vehicle under the age of 21. VanderWiel said Walter had a blood alcohol content of .037, which was not a high enough level of alcohol intoxication to charge her with DUI.
Walter surrendered to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 2 on a warrant for assault with a deadly weapon.
When Walter was charged, Rico was charged with a felony and the two were determined to be co-defendants. Around this time, Arnerich took over the prosecution of the case.
At a video arraignment on Nov. 2, 2018, Judge Kate Powell Segerstrom issued a criminal protective order on the victim, which bars Rico from contacting him or coming within 100 yards of him. The order is set to expire on May 6, according to court records.
Rico and Walter both remain out of custody pending the execution of their upcoming hearings.
Walter will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. May 14 in Department 2 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court.