WOODLAND — Doubts over the validity of a plea deal in a Davis hate-crime case were eased Friday when the parties reached a new resolution in the matter.
Clayton Daniel Garzon, 20, had pleaded no contest last fall to a felony battery charge with a hate-crime enhancement, with the understanding that he would serve a five-year prison term at the Yolo County Jail, rather than in a state prison facility.
But at his scheduled October sentencing hearing, questions were raised over whether Garzon was eligible to serve his time locally under California’s prison realignment measure, which calls for county jail space to be reserved for felons convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual crimes.
Specifically at issue was the hate-crime enhancement, which, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven, requires state prison time. Garzon’s victim, Lawrence “Mikey” Partida, and his family opposed the idea of a prison term, given the defendant’s relatively young age.
So attorneys in the case hammered out a new agreement, entered Friday morning in Yolo Superior Court when Garzon pleaded no contest to felony assault and hate-crime charges, plus a misdemeanor count of battery with serious bodily injury. He also acknowledged committing the March 10, 2013, beating of Partida while on his own recognizance for another offense.
Authorities said Garzon targeted the 32-year-old Partida because of his sexual orientation.
As a stand-alone charge, the hate-crime count adds a new felony to Garzon’s record but does not impose the state prison requirement, Raven said. The new plea deal also takes into account Garzon’s pending assault case in Solano County, to which he admitted possessing brass knuckles during that crime.
Garzon is now scheduled to be sentenced on March 14 to five years in county jail, followed by two years and four months of supervised release — the latter an additional requirement that was not part of the original plea deal. Prior to that, he will be transported to Solano County for sentencing on the brass-knuckles charge.
“I’m much happier with this plea, all across the board,” Partida’s mother, Gloria Partida, said after the hearing. In addition to incorporating the Solano County offense, “I feel like it will help that he’s being supervised (after his jail release) until he’s a little more mature.”
Raven noted that none of the charges in the new plea deal are strike offenses. Under the previous agreement, Garzon would have had a strike on his record, meaning any future felony conviction could have resulted in a doubled sentence.
“What’s more important to us is obtaining justice here, and that Mikey is satisfied with the agreement,” Raven said. “I think we’ve met both those goals.”
Garzon’s attorney, Linda Parisi, said her client also is agreeable to the new deal, which she described as largely similar to the original one.
“This plea simply conformed to the realignment (law),” she said.
Garzon also is expected to pay an as-yet unspecified amount of restitution to Mikey Partida, who was hospitalized for two weeks with a fractured skull and other injuries he suffered in the beating outside his cousin’s I Street house.
Witnesses testified at a May preliminary hearing that Garzon, who lived nearby, shouted anti-gay slurs at Partida before and during the assault, which occurred following a party held in honor of Partida’s birthday. Partida reportedly had left the area with another cousin, but was attacked after returning to the house for a set of keys.
Prosecutors argued that Garzon was interested in Partida’s female cousin and, under the influence of alcohol, became enraged when Partida thwarted his efforts to speak to her as she left the party.
Parisi, meanwhile, contended that Garzon was unaware of Partida’s sexual orientation and used the slurs to challenge the other man’s masculinity, flying in a linguistics expert from Brigham Young University to testify on that subject during the preliminary hearing.
The case drew the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, bringing Nancy Appel, associate director of the organization’s San Francisco office, to Friday’s court hearing.
“Hate crimes are meant to send a message of hate and terror and intimidation, and as a society we need to send a message back, that that will not be tolerated,” Appel said outside the courtroom. Garzon, she added, “seems to be owning up to what happened. He’s going to do significant time in custody and significant time in supervision.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene