Rehabilitation sought for stabbing defendant
He offered the statements during a Wednesday plea and sentencing hearing in Yamhill County Circuit Court. During the hearing, the 20-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted second-degree assault, a Class C felony, and failure to report as a sex offender, a Class A misdemeanor.
The charges violated his probation on a November 2013 conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a Class C felony. He was placed on 18 months probation after completing a 14-day jail term for that offense.
Judge Cal Tichenor sentenced Velasquez to 18 months in the county jail, followed by five years of post-release supervision. He faces an additional 60 months if he violates any terms of his supervision, following his release from custody.
Under those terms, Velasquez is required to sever all gang ties and participate in a gang intervention program. He is prohibited from wearing any gang-related clothing.
The plea and sentencing hearing began Monday before Judge Cynthia Easterday. She was presented with a stipulated plea bargain between Deputy District Attorney Ladd Wiles and Velasquez’s court-appointed attorney, Carol Fredrick of McMinnville.
Easterday said she could not accept the terms, given the severity of the incident and the defendant’s lengthy record, which includes convictions for sex abuse, drug abuse and acts of violence. So the hearing was rescheduled for Wednesday before Judge Cal Tichenor, who had worked with the parties during the settlement talks.
“Frequently, a judge’s approval or guidance is sought during negotiations by having a pre-plea or a settlement conference,” Wiles said. “In this case, we had a settlement conference with Judge Tichenor.
“That led to a stipulated agreement,” Wiles said. “When one judge is not wanting to go forward with terms approved by another judge, the case is returned to the judge who helped the parties with the agreement.”
He said Tichenor was prepared to approve the terms, so the proceedings were moved to his jurisdiction.
Capt. Dennis Marks of the McMinnville police characterized the gang-related stabbing this way:
An Oregon State Police trooper was in the area with a recruit when he observed a fight develop in the chamber parking lot. When he activated his emergency lights and siren, a Latino male fled on foot, leaving a bleeding victim behind.
The recruit pursued the fleeing assailant, but lost sight of him. Clothing discarded at the scene led police to conclude the incident might be gang-related.
“The victim was walking to the library to study,” Wiles said. “The defendant started gesturing to him aggressively.
“The victim took his earbuds out and the defendant asked him, ‘You bang?’ The defendant started challenging the victim aggressively.”
Velasquez made “slashing motions” with the weapon, Wiles said, and the victim raised his hands to defend himself. In the process, he sustained a hand injury requiring treatment at the Willamette Valley Medical Center.
“Given his age, the hope is for rehabilitation,” Wiles said of the 20-year-old assailant. “If he goes to prison, he would only come back hardened and entrenched in the gang lifestyle. The victim is in agreement with this sentence.”
Fredrick said the sentence will allow Velasquez an opportunity to break free from the gang environment and become a productive citizen.