Truckee carjacker gets 180 days in jail despite victim’s objection (w/ video)
TRUCKEE, Calif. — A Nevada County Superior Court judge on Friday sentenced a carjacker to 180 days in county jail on a plea agreement, despite the victim objecting that her rights had been violated because she had not been notified.
Nathan Daniel Jones, 29, had been arrested in late October 2014 at the Truckee Beacon gas station at 10009 Donner Pass Road after he allegedly tried to pull a woman out of her car by her neck.
Jones earlier had tried to enter another vehicle, occupied by a woman, by breaking out the driver’s side window at a gas station; that woman was able to drive off and was not injured.
A Truckee Police Department officer spotted Jones assaulting the second woman in her vehicle at the same gas station.
The officer physically removed Jones off the victim and arrested him. He was later found to be under the influence of a stimulant and continued to act out violently after he was taken into custody.
Police were provided surveillance footage from the Beacon station, showing what police believe is Jones attempting to enter the first vehicle, and after being unsuccessful, moving toward the second attempt.
A search of Jones’ belongings reportedly revealed a one-pound, heat-sealed plastic bag of marijuana and a homemade blackjack.
Jones was charged with assault with force likely to produce bodily injury, battery on an officer, possession of marijuana, and vandalism.
In early January, he pleaded no contest to the assault charge in exchange for 180 days in custody and three years supervised probation.
He was set to be sentenced on Thursday, but the victim, Rebecca Oestreich, 29 at the time of the incident, told the court she believed her rights had been violated and that he should have been charged with attempted homicide.
She said she was not consulted regarding the plea, which was a violation of her Marsy’s rights, and asked for the plea agreement to be set aside.
Marsy’s Law, passed in 2008, is a victim’s bill of rights that includes notification of all court proceedings.
Jones’ attorney, Alison Bermant, said she believed the victim had been contacted, and noted that the plea agreement was partially based on the findings in a confidential psychiatric report.
Judge Linda Sloven continued the hearing to Friday, and asked that then-Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson, who is now stationed in Truckee, be present; the case was being handled by Ferguson at the time of the plea agreement.
On Friday, Glenn Jennings — who has replaced Ferguson in the Assistant District Attorney slot — expressed concern about the plea agreement and the lack of notice to Oestreich, and asked Sloven to reject the plea.
Bermant, however, said it was both unlawful and unprofessional of Jennings to make that request.
She argued that while the victim has the right to be heard, she does not have the right to govern the prosecution — and that the victim did not specifically request to be notified.
“I do feel for the victim,” Bermant said. “I am not minimizing her experience in any way whatsoever. But it’s her obligation to request that notification.”
Nina Salarno Ashford, an attorney retained by Oestreich, disputed that, saying that her client had a constitutional right to be advised prior to the plea agreement, and that did not take place.
Ferguson also spoke, telling the judge that her reputation was being unfairly attacked, and that she was never told that Oestreich has asserted her Marsy’s rights and needed to be consulted.
“I complied with the law to the extent that I was aware,” she said.
In the end, Sloven reportedly concluded she did not have the authority to reject the plea agreement, and sentenced Jones to the 180 days in jail.
Jennings expressed disappointment, but said he respected the court’s decision to abide by the deal that had been made.
“The victim was not contacted or made part of the plea bargain,” Jennings said Monday. “I believe there’s an obligation for our office to contact victims, that there was a violation (of Marsy’s rights) that needed to be corrected.”
He noted, however, that Oestreich was allowed to make a statement in court Friday and that he explained the terms of the plea agreement to her.
Liz Kellar is city editor of The Union newspaper, a sister paper of the Sierra Sun’s based in Nevada City and Grass Valley.