The 18-year-old driver of a vehicle that nearly struck a pedestrian during an assault in downtown Sonora last October cried during her sentencing hearing on Tuesday in the Tuolumne County Superior Court.
“Go home. Think about what you did and change your life before it’s too late,” said victim advocate Ginger Martin, reading for a sheet of paper given to her by 54-year-old victim, Joseph Machado.
Shelby Walter, 18, dotted her eye with a tissue as she left the court Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by nearly a dozen friends and family. She was sentenced to serve 150 days of electronic home monitoring and five years of formal probation after pleading guilty to felony assault in April as a part of a plea deal.
After the hearing, Machado said he sought a lenient resolution without jail or prison time because he believed Walter would benefit from rehabilitation.
“It sounds like she understood my message and she’s willing to make necessary changes in her personal life. Hopefully she stays on that path and doesn’t forget her responsibility to me and this community,” Machado said.
Machado was attacked by Francisco Rico, 25, and a male juvenile multiple times near Lyons Road and Dodge Lane on Oct. 30. Rico was sentenced to one year in county jail and five years of probation Monday.
Walter did not make a public statement in court on Tuesday. While Martin read the statement, she rocked in her seat and looked down .
“I saw you shaking your head up and down like you were listening to Mr. Machado,” Judge Frank Dougherty.
As Walter nodded, Doughtery added, “and you can say sorry.”
“Yes,” Walter said.
Dougherty commended Machado for what he said was a compassionate statement and willingness to give Walter an opportunity at rehabilitation.
“It says a lot about you,” Dougherty said to Machado.
Dougherty also asked if Walter’s mother was in the crowd, and when a woman seated in the second row nodded and raised her hand, he confirmed she heard the statement, too.
“You’re young, hopefully you have a bright future. Follow Mr. Machado’s instructions and recommendations,” Dougherty said, turning again towards Walter.
Dougherty ordered Walter to report to the Tuolumne County Probation Office before the end of the day on Tuesday.
Her probation includes 200 hours of community service, regular testing for alcohol and drug use and a five-year protective order for Machado. Rico and Walter will share $8,520 in restitution to Machado to account for hospital costs and lost wages. Interest will accrue at a rate of 10 percent every year following the sentencing hearing until the amount is paid.
In a written statement provided to the probation department, Walter said she picked up the individuals who harmed Machado and tried to persuade them to get back inside the Mustang after they got out and attacked him.
“I should have never had them in my car and had no idea why they jumped out,” Walter wrote.
Walter repeatedly denied swerving the vehicle or intentionally attempting to hit Machado. She said she took the plea agreement because she was “fearful for my life to testify against [the] accused.”
Tuolumne County Deputy District Attorney Samantha Arnerich said she saw Walter crying during the statement.
Arnerich said she was pleased with the leniency shown toward Walter, “because she just turned 18 before this happened and has no prior law enforcement contact at all. She took responsibility more than [Rico] did from the beginning to the officers.”
According to Walter’s probation report, she is employed in the food service industry and is set to graduate from high school in June. She told a probation officer she hoped to enroll in Modesto Junior College and study to be a veterinarian.
She said she only occasionally consumed alcohol and last drank in January. She said she smoked marijuana daily for anxiety and smoked the day of her interview with the probation department.
The probation department interview took place on April 23.
In the report, the officer said Walter regretted her role in the assault.
“She would like Mr. Machado to know she is sorry he sustained injuries,” the report said. “Ms. Walter indicated she had made positive changes and is focusing on work and school. She is looking forward to putting this matter behind her and moving on with her life.”
Machado was walking with his dog when he was almost struck by a white Mustang convertible driven by Walter and occupied by Rico, a male minor and a female minor. Rico and an unidentified male juvenile beat Machado in the face, head and body with their fists in two assaults, minutes apart.
When the vehicle returned for a third time, Machado struck the vehicle with a tree branch.
Walter had a blood alcohol content of 0.036 and was issued a citation for having alcohol in her system while operating a vehicle under age 21.