WOODLAND — Clayton Daniel Garzon will receive a five-year prison term for the March beating of a gay man near downtown Davis, under a plea agreement announced in Yolo Superior Court on Tuesday after several weeks of negotiations between attorneys in the case.
The 20-year-old Davis resident pleaded no contest to a felony count of battery causing serious bodily injury, as well as an enhancement designating the attack a hate crime.
“You understand, Mr. Garzon, the court treats that as a guilty plea,” Judge David Rosenberg told Garzon, who replied, “Yes, Your Honor.”
After accepting the plea, Rosenberg vacated next week’s scheduled jury trial in the case and instead set a sentencing hearing for Oct. 30, at which time Garzon is expected to be taken into custody.
Garzon will serve his term at the Yolo County Jail as opposed to state prison, and with good behavior he’s likely to be released after serving half the sentence, his attorney Linda Parisi said.
But beating victim Lawrence “Mikey” Partida of Davis said he’s satisfied with the plea deal, which also calls for Garzon to pay restitution for Partida’s medical bills, lost wages and other expenses resulting from his injuries.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” Partida, 32, said after leaving the Woodland courthouse with prosecuting attorney Jonathan Raven.
“The priorities for us and for the family were the true nature of the crime — the severe beating and also the hate-crime enhancement,” Raven said. “We felt this was a very good resolution for Mikey and the family and for the people.”
Said Partida’s mother, Gloria Partida: “I think we are all at peace. That’s pretty much all you can ask for.”
In exchange for the plea, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed the remaining counts in the case, which included felony assault and criminal-threats charges.
Garzon will have a strike on his record, meaning any future felony conviction could result in a doubled sentence, Raven said.
The plea agreement also takes into account an assault case pending against Garzon in Solano County, where he was accused of taking part in a stabbing incident at a Dixon house party in September 2012. That case will be dismissed on a Harvey waiver, meaning it can still be considered in the restitution calculations.
“That case was a very challenging case for them (Solano County) — you could see by the way that case was moving very slowly,” Raven noted Tuesday.
Witnesses testified at a May preliminary hearing in the Davis case that Garzon hurled anti-gay slurs at Partida before and during the March 10 assault on I Street, where Partida was attending a party at his cousin’s house in honor of his 32nd birthday. Partida reportedly had left the area with another cousin, but was attacked after returning to the I Street 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.
The beating left Partida hospitalized for two weeks with injuries including a fractured skull and bleeding to his brain, and he was required to undergo extensive rehabilitative therapy to regain his speech and motor skills.
Garzon and his family left the courthouse without comment following the brief court hearing. Parisi, his attorney, said her client agreed to the deal knowing he faced a much harsher sentence — as many as 14 years in prison — had the case gone to trial.
“Clearly there was an altercation between the two, and given the status of the evidence certainly there was a chance that he could be convicted,” Parisi said.
During the preliminary hearing she called witnesses including Garzon’s openly gay uncle who said his nephew had always been “protective” of him, as well as a linguistics expert who labeled the gay slurs a challenge to Partida’s masculinity.
Despite Garzon’s hate-crime admission, “he continues to maintain that while there is evidence suggesting a hate crime, he has never been motivated by any hate or bias to anyone as a result of sexual orientation,” Parisi said.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene