If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ Zech 13 v 6

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Patrick Rojas's Sentencing Process

Back to our story.....

The day finally came when Patrick would be sentenced, July 2007.

A few days prior to Patrick's sentencing, our child expressed a desire to attend the hearing. I panicked! But so much of what had gone on was completely out of this child's control. I decided I would at least talk to Eric about it and then called our counselor. This was one opportunity in all of this for this child to control something, even if it was just whether they wanted to attend the hearing or not.

I called the counselor and we had a lengthy conversation. The counselor felt our child was strong enough emotionally to attend the hearing and that it might be a real healing experience. The counselor decided to attend as well in case anything unexpected happened. The sentencing would be the first time our child would see Patrick Rojas since we reported his crimes.

We were ushered into the courthouse by the child advocate. As we exited the elevator, the first thing I saw was Kathy Rojas praying on a bench with someone. I have always wondered what could she possibly been praying (especially since she knew her son was a guilty pedophile.) Would she actually pray for God to keep secret her son's crimes? As we proceeded down the hallway towards the courtroom I saw Patrick Rojas, Eddie Rojas, and the lawyer huddled in the corner. We went into a side room until it was closer to the start of the sentencing. The courtroom was packed. The judge even had people sitting up in the jurors area.

It was at the courthouse when the prosecutor told us there was a last minute request from Patrick's lawyer for a change of judge. Only the defendant can request a change in the judge. Instead of having a judge that regularly presided over similar types of cases, our case was now going before a judge that routinely sat over traffic violations. Unbelievable? Yes.
Judge Daniel Philips was now presiding over our case. He had literally just been handed our case files, which included a 40-page sexual-psycho evaluation that contained very relevant information. To say that Judge W. Daniel Phillips was outrageous is an understatement. I lost any confidence in the court when the judge was suggesting that he would pass sentencing on Patrick without even taking the time to read Patrick's court ordered sexual psycho evaluation. It took a lot of bantering back and forth between lawyers to hold off final sentencing for one week.  

We had been told by the prosecutor to prepare a statement to read to the judge. The prosecutor suggested we have our statement written out, because she has seen too many people freeze up in the moment when they hadn't prepared a written statement and after the fact wished they had remembered to make certain points. We were told that anyone could address the judge and make statements. I asked the prosecutor if we should ask people to make statements on our behalf. She stated it would be good to have the child's grandparents have a statement along with us. The prosecutor didn't want to have a room full of people with prepared statements because some judges don't like that. Eric and I decided to ask my parents and two family friends to have a statement prepared. I told anyone who I knew who was planning to attend the sentencing that anyone was welcomed to address the judge, but that we had specifically asked three different families to speak.

A lot of people from the church were concerned about the fact that they would need to pick a side of the courtroom to sit on. They wanted to appear neutral. They didn't want to take sides. That ended up being a moot point because the courtroom was so full people just had to sit where they could find a seat. This attitude as you probably have picked up from previous post was really upsetting to me.

Grandma and Grandpa McBee stood and made a statement. The Dew's and the LLew's also came with a prepared statement to make. We decided that Eric would be the one to make the statement on behalf of our family, but we stood with him. When we were done the judge asked if anyone else wanted to make a statement and there were two individuals that spontaneously stood to make a statement on behalf of us. One of the women I would like to highlight stood and made a very heartfelt emotional statement from the perspective of and adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Now, we had to return to court to find out if the judge would go along with the plea agreement or overrule it, which ended up being, August 17, 2007.

This final sentencing day in court had a very different feel about it. First, we didn't bring our child, there were less people from the church in attendance, and only Eddie and the older boys showed up in court, no Kathy or older girls. 

It was many peoples observation in the courtroom that this judge was very arrogant in his demeanor and speech. On the day of final sentencing the judge began with a lengthy speech that was somewhat offensive at points. One example is when the judge equated a sexual predator to a shop lifter or a drunk driver. That statement bothered quite a few people that were in attendance that day. It showed a minimization of the crimes Patrick D. Rojas committed. I am convinced that Judge Phillips could not have read the evaluation in it's entirety because he just went along with the plea agreement in place.

The judge was the last hope for some kind of justice in our case. The judge did not have the authority to change the charges against Patrick but he did have the authority to over ride the plea agreement and sentence Patrick to the maximum for what he was charged. The maximum jail time for the gross-misdemeanor Patrick was charged with would have been 1 year in county jail.

If the judge would have read the evaluation he would have discovered that Patrick should have been charged with child molestation in the first degree which is a felony that held an 8 to 25 year sentence range. The evaluation held information proving that Patrick had 5 other minor victims. How could the judge just go with the original plea agreement. The original plea agreement was made with the belief that Patrick had kissed our child on the lips only. 

But the judge should have known otherwise from the information in the evaluation. This process was so upsetting. Unjust! Maddening!

*From the information I gathered Judge W. Daniel Phillips retired in March 2009. 

*This was from numerous posts:
Sentencing, Sentencing (cont.)7/26/09, Sentencing (cont.) 7/27/09 and The Judge

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