Judge rejects plea deal in shooting of five
District Judge Brian Flynn rejected a plea agreement Wednesday in the case of a man charged with shooting five people, saying attorneys crafted a deal that’s too soft.
“The terms of the plea agreement do not allow the court to impose a sentence that will adequately protect the public,” Flynn wrote in an order rejecting the agreement, adding the terms “do not serve to develop respect for the law.”
Joshua Anton, 21, pleaded guilty last week to a lone count of felony menacing in a deal in which the District Attorney’s office agreed to place Anton on probation. Under the agreement, Flynn could not impose any incarceration.
“Not even weekend detention or electronic home monitoring can be imposed,” Flynn’s order reads.
The judge took roughly five minutes to type out a written order after hearing arguments during Anton’s sentencing hearing Wednesday.
“Notably,” the judge wrote, “the District Attorney has still today represented that all of the charges can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and that the defendant’s claims of self defense can be disproved beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Anton faced a potential sentence of decades in prison if convicted of the original 18 charges filed in the case, including first-degree assault, second-degree assault and prohibited use of a weapon, in addition to several sentence-enhancing crime-of-violence charges.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Trish Mahre called the proposed agreement “not a perfect result,” but a compromise based on problems with evidence in the case. Anton has claimed he fired the gun in self defense after several people, who earlier were involved in a confrontation with Anton, allegedly tried to force their way into a home during an underage party at 2984 Krista St. in Fruitvale in December.
Mahre said witnesses, most of whom were intoxicated at the time, offered inconsistent statements, and several of the victims haven’t stayed in touch with prosecutors.
Nonetheless, Mahre said they believe Anton “used an unreasonable degree of force” in shooting the five people, several of whom were found lying near the home’s doorway.
Prosecutors believe Anton was standing in the living room of the home when he fired four shots from a .40-caliber handgun, striking five people, with one round passing through one victim.
The judge noted in his order that doctors found three of the five wounded people had suffered what doctors considered to be serious bodily injury.
Anton’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing the self-defense claims. Flynn has yet to rule on the motion.
The self-defense arguments are expected to be addressed Sept. 1, during the next hearing in Anton’s case.