The 11th Judicial Court met on Monday, June 20, with Judge Jim Shirley presiding.
Nelson Wade Bonta pleaded guilty to coercion, an E felony. On Apr. 2, 2022, he went to an acquiatance’s home under the influence of alcohol. Bonta asked the acquaintance to hide him from the police.
“I got drunk and don’t really recall,” said Bonta about the sequence of events that unfolded. To DA Bryce Shields, a key fact is that Bonta admits using force or threats to compel his acquaintance to comply.
By law, the use of force or threats elevates the crime of coercion from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. Bonta has been in jail since his arrest in early April. He is seeking a diversionary sentence.
In exchange for the guilty plea, DA Bryce Shields jointly recommends probation, conditional with treatment for alcohol abuse.
The judge is under no obligation to follow the terms of the plea agreement.
Attorney Kyle Swanson argued for Bonta’s release from jail in the interim before sentencing. Bonta says he wants help and is eager to get back to work. The judge gave the defendant a to-do list including signing up for drug court and testing.
“If you do all those things and are accepted to drug court I will release you,” he said.
Eric Eugene Caywood pleaded not guilty to possession of a stolen vehicle, a C felony. He denies having tools commonly used in burglary, a gross misdemeanor. He also denies possessing a controlled substance, an E felony. The alleged events occurred on May 28.
Caywood could get one to five years in prison if the State proves the auto theft charges. The possession of tools intended for burglary carries penalties of up to one year in jail. The court set the matter for jury trial Sept. 12, 13 and 14.
Steve Cochran asked for a continuance of Roy Matthew Fulkerson’s- arraignment. He wants more time to look over the plea agreement with his client. The judge granted his request. On April 13, Fulkerson, 34, was booked for convicted person failing to register as a sex offender within 48 hours. On Jun. 8, he was booked for a criminal contempt warrant. He came to court from jail.
Last April, James Ernest Burrows entered a no contest Alford Plea to attempted burglary, an E felony. On Monday attorney Steve Evenson asked for a continuance so the Division of Parole and Probation could conduct an interview with the defendant.
They will produce a pre-sentencing investigation report for the judge. Following that, Burrows will return to court for sentencing.
On April 18, Danilio Gustavo Moreno, 48, of Vallejo CA, was booked for conspiracy to elude, evade or fail to stop on the signal of a police officer and aggressive driving, first offense.
He’s been in custody ever since and says he does not want to leave the jail. The court set the jury trial for Oct. 10 and 11. The judge reminded him that he is not allowed to drive.
“If someone comes and picks you up, you can go,” he said.
The court held five review hearings to determine if the defendants could be released from probation, either honorably or dishonorably. A dishonorable discharge is a red flag to any future sentencing judge.
The court granted honorable discharges to those who met the terms and conditions of their probation.