A Tuolumne County Superior Court judge looked at a Twain Harte woman who murdered Sonora Police Department volunteer Rick Roberts on Friday afternoon and said it would not be in the interest of justice to reduce her sentence from 50 years to life to 25 years to life.
“This crime, despite lack of a prior record, may occur again,” said Judge James A. Boscoe in his determination that a gun enhancement on Cheryl Lucero’s murder conviction — which carried a sentence of 25 years to life — would not be struck.
Lucero, dressed in a cornflower blue polka-dot gown and shackled at the wrists and ankles, sat in the green, cushioned seats of the jury box and did not react to the judgment. As for most of the hearing, she seemed to smirk.
Teddi Roberts, Rick’s wife, was joined in an embrace by members of her family after the ruling.
“I’m very relieved,” Teddi Roberts said. “She destroyed our family. My son is growing up without his dad and he shouldn’t have to.”
Roberts said her son is now 14 years old.
Teddi and Rick Roberts were married for over 23 years.
Roberts was known for his participation in local destruction derbies and served in the Sonora Police Department Explorer and Police Associated Citizen Team programs.
Lucero alleged she was involved in an extended extramarital affair with Rick Roberts prior to the murder.
According to a California Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal opinion, the relationship dissolved and Rick Roberts was concerned Lucero may have stalked him and his family.
Rick Roberts died from a bullet wound to the heart and a grazing wound to the shoulder in an automobile shop he rented near his home on Mono Way in Sonora on Feb. 16, 2014.
Boscoe was given the discretion to re-sentence Lucero based on Senate Bill 620, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
Though Lucero was sentenced in October 2015 before the passage of the bill, she was granted reconsideration of her sentence under that statute according to the California Fifth Appellate District Court of Appeal opinion issued in May.
Lucero was convicted in September 2015 on first degree murder and an enhancement of using a gun in the commission of the murder. She was sentenced to consecutive terms of 25 years to life on the murder charge and the gun enhancement.
“I think she deserves more, but we have to go with the law. Rick won't come back, he can’t get any time off for something that never should have happened,” Teddi Roberts said.
Lucero’s attorney, Tuolumne County Public Defender Scott Gross, sat beside her in the jury box and argued the enhancement should be struck or a lesser enhancement be levied because Lucero had no prior criminal history and she was a “model prisoner” while in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“We acknowledge this is the type of event we never want to see again,” Gross said. “These were unique circumstances not likely to be repeated.”
Boscoe said the court had records that showed Lucero participating with religious groups and programs benefiting the community for 2016 and 2017, but not 2018 and 2019.
Lucero is housed in Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, her earliest parole eligibility date is June 2039.
At Lucero’s previous hearing on June 28, she was represented by Deputy Public Defender Hallie Gorman. Boscoe postponed a decision on that date after requests from both parties to continue.
Before the start of the hearing, Gross explained to Lucero that Gorman filed a motion and he would be representing her that day.
“What’s your name?” Lucero said.
Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg said Gross’ representations minimized the extent of Lucero’s culpability.
“This is a very, very callous [person] who has no regard for the life of the victim,” Krieg said. “She continues to deny her responsibility today.”
Krieg reminded Boscoe that Lucero blamed other people during the muder investigation and reportedly did not participate with law enforcement. Krieg also said Lucero had a shrine to Rick Roberts in her house, a tattoo related to him and fake wedding invitations for them inside of her storage unit. The gun used in the commision of the murder was never located.
Krieg also said a lesser enhancement would not accurately reflect Lucero’s crime and that she was “not impressed” by the prison conduct records.
“This family still suffers today,” Krieg said.
Boscoe said one of the factors governing his decision was deterrence and he did not believe a reduced sentence would stop Lucero from potentially breaking the law again.
He said the details of the case remained concerning to him.
“All indicate a mental condition,” Boscoe said.
After the hearing, Krieg said the decision could be appealed, but she believed Boscoe’s judgment would be upheld.
“In my opinion, it’s over,” Krieg said.
“Justice has been served,” added Teddi Roberts.