One of six Monterey County Jail inmates accused of beating up a corrections deputy in May pleaded no contest to a series of related charges Thursday, his attorney confirmed.
Mark Raso, 27, of Greenfield, was charged in June along with Edward Ramirez, 20; Armando Canchola, 25; Francisco Miranda, 23; Alberto Cortez, 22; and Marcos Zamora, 23.
They are accused of jumping Deputy Nick Menezes the morning of May 24 as he dealt with an allegedly struggling Giovanni Pacheco. Pacheco, 22, is accused of killing three and injuring four in a shooting last year outside a Williams Road taqueria.
Prosecutors allege Cortez urged the other five on in beating up Menezes while he was distracted with Pacheco. Menezes was still off work during the July preliminary hearing for Canchola — the first of the six to be bound over for trial.
Brian Worthington, who is representing Raso, said his client pleaded no contest to assault on law enforcement personnel and a gang enhancement, but only to wrap up a more serious case.
Raso was initially charged with the attempted murder of Julio Rodarte in September 2013 in Greenfield. Rodarte, a registered sex offender, was shot multiple times and sustained non life-threatening injuries.
In that case, Raso pleaded no contest Thursday to assault with a firearm, personal use of a firearm and personal infliction of great bodily injury, Worthington said.
He will be sentenced on Sept. 18 to 10 years in prison, Worthington said. Those 10 years stem entirely from the 2013 case involving Rodarte, he said.
“I think the fact the alleged assault in the jail went for no time speaks to the quality and quantity of evidence the people could present in that case,” he said.
Worthington declined to comment in much detail regarding the jailhouse case, noting the cases for the other five defendants are still pending.
Reportedly, the only deputy to ever implicate Raso was Menezes and that was weeks after the fact during an unrecorded interview, Worthington said. Raso was accused, specifically, of punching Menezes in the ribs.
Further, Worthington added, Raso wasn’t hit with a baton or Taser — both of which were deployed during the incident — and didn’t have blood or marks on his hands consistent with a fight, Worthington said.
“Mr. Raso didn’t throw punches, he didn’t order anyone to throw punches and he didn’t act as a lookout,” Worthington said. “The defendant isn’t admitting to the facts of the case. He only accepted the plea to take advantage of a resolution, to get a more serious case settled.”
That more serious case dealt with an unreliable witness and victim, Worthington said. In fact, he said, Rodarte was the only person who could place Raso at the scene.
“He was first looking at 32 years to life (in prison),” Worthington said. “He pled to 10 years based on the sufficient evidence (the defense put on).”
The preliminary hearing for Ramirez, who was also scheduled to be in court Thursday, has been postponed until Sept. 25.
Jimmy Panetta prosecuted Raso in the jailhouse case. He kept his comments minimal.
“He pled no contest to assault on a police officer for the benefit of a criminal street gang,” Panetta said. “There are a number of reasons someone enters a plea like that, including wanting to take responsibility for their actions.”
Sam Nong, who prosecuted Raso in the shooting case, also had few comments.
“I don’t want to victim bash,” he said. “Good people sometimes do bad things and bad people sometimes can rehabilitate and are subject to being shot.” ..Source.. by Allison Gatlin