Joseph Machado, the victim of a downtown Sonora drive-by assault, hunched over and covered his face during the sentencing hearing for his attacker on Monday morning at the Tuolumne County Superior Court.
Too overcome with emotion to read his prepared statement, Machado, 54, handed four sheets of handwritten paper to victim advocate, Ginger Martin.
“I will think of you every morning when I look in the mirror at the scar over my right eye that you gave me to me,” Martin read.
Machado said after the hearing, “It was too difficult for me to do it without expressing anger that didn't need to be in this. I'm not looking for vengeance. I'm looking for justice.”
Francsico Rico, 25, convicted of felony assault in April as a part of a plea deal, was sentenced by Judge Kevin Seibert to one year in county jail and five years of probation. He was remanded to the Tuolumne County Jail following the hearing.
“I feel like that gives him a longer sentence without putting him in prison. It gives him a chance to prove himself, but also holds him accountable if he fails again,” Machado said.
Machado was walking with his dog near Lyons Road and Dodge Lane when he was almost struck by a white Mustang convertible occupied by Rico, a male minor, a female minor and 18-year-old driver from Tuolumne, Shelby Walter, on Oct. 30, 2018. Rico and an unidentified male juvenile beat Machado in the face, head and body with their fists in two assaults, minutes apart.
Machado said in his statement he was “trapped between death and a handrail” while dodging the car that twice surged toward him on Lyons Road. According to Rico’s probation report, Machado’s face was covered in blood when a Sonora Police officer found him. Machado was also holding a large branch which he used to strike the door of the Mustang as it returned a third time.
“What's going through my mind is the big picture of all of this: the increase in violence in our community and especially amongst juveniles,” Machado said. “The only time I'm going to be satisfied with this particular guy’s outcome is when he completes probation because I'm not sure he’s going to.”
Seibert cautioned Rico that if he violated the terms of his probation, he could be sent to state prison. Seibert said he was also concerned that Rico denied responsibility for the attack, claiming it was self-defense.
“I’m worried this is an opportunity to learn a lesson you’re not ready to learn,” Seibert said.
Rico, dressed in a Raiders jersey, arched up from a slouched position.
“No, your honor, I’m ready to learn.”
“The consequences of not doing it will be dire,” Seibert responded.
According to the probation report, Rico admitted to being under the influence of alcohol during the attack and referred to it as a “mistake.” Rico said he and the others yelled “get out of the road” at Machado and then approached Machado because he yelled at them.
“Mr. Rico claimed the man pulled both his legs out from under him and he hit his head on a rock wall so he reacted in self-defense,” the probation report said.
Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Samantha Arnerich said she was frustrated that Rico denied responsibility.
“He’s young and he’s set with an opportunity to have a chance. The ball is in his court, so if he doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity the court can send him to prison,” she said.
The terms of Rico’s probation include alcohol and drug testing, 100 hours of community service, no contact with any child under the age of 18 without an adult over 21 and one which Seibert referred to as “significant” — to stay away from Sonora High School.
Rico and Walter were ordered to share in $8,520 in restitution to Machado to account for hospital costs and lost wages. Medical records indicated the victim sustained a concussion and bruising. Seibert ruled interest will accrue at a rate of 10 percent every year following the sentencing hearing.
A five-year protective order was also issued for Machado.
According to the probation report, Rico has not previously served jail or prison time. He was placed on three years of probation following a charge of giving false identification to peace officer in Napa County in April 2015.
The probation report said Rico, who was born in Napa County and has up to a tenth grade education, told the probation officer he quit alcohol following the attack but is a frequent marijuana user. He said he planned to obtain a GED while in jail and seek employment following his release.
Probation classified him as “high risk” for reoffending and ineligible for electronic monitoring.