Matthew Beauchamp | Colusa County District Attorney
For the past year it has been my privilege to serve as the Colus County District Attorney. This office is filled with hard-working prosecutors, investigators and support staff. This ‘Year in Review’ is an open letter to the people of Colusa County, chronicling the work my office has done in the past year. This review highlights important cases prosecuted and details other topics of interest and important issues our office has to face.
One of those issues was the passage of Senate Bill 394, which converts all juvenile life-without-parole (LWOP) sentences to 25 years to life and allows the life inmate to receive youth offender parole. The reason this new law is important to my office is that it allows convicted killer Nathan Ramazzini to receive a parole hearing even though he was sentenced in 1998 to LWOP. Despite current rhetoric, sentencing decisions are not made lightly or arbitrarily. At the time of sentencing, the judge was provided with substantial information by the Probation Department outlining the heinous conduct of Ramazzini.
Ramazzini’s LWOP sentence was sell-deserved. The Governor’s signing of SB 394, making it law, is a broken promise to the victim, the victim’s family, and subverts the just sentence imposed in the Ramazzini case.
A second important issue that the District Attorney’s office has wrestled with is the decriminalization of drug offenses and the upcoming legalization of marijuana. Contrary to the notion of public safety, the California Legislature has made the possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other serious drugs misdemeanor offenses. An observation by this office is the sharp increase in driving under the influence of drug prosecutions and other drug crimes.
The good news is possession for sale of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are still felonies. In 2017, this office successfully prosecuted numerous drug dealers and forfeited their assets. The amount of assets forefeited was $68,936.96. Those funds were distributed to local and state enforcement agencies.
This year I hired Bradley Morrow as a deputy district Attorney. Mr. Morrow came to us from the Napa County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Morrow grew up in Colusa County and attended high school in Williams. He understands the people that live in Colusa County and appreciates our rural heritage. He is an asset to the office.
Christopher Liston was the District Attorney’s officer of the year. Investigator Liston has previously worked for both the Yuba City Police Department and the Colusa County Sheriff. Liston divides his time between our office and the Colusa County Task Force. Liston was heavily involved in a number of important investigations this year, including assisting in the Robleto homicide investigation.
What follows is a list of important cases successfully prosecuted in 2017.
Michael Hankins was convicted by jury of aggravated mayhem. Hankins intentionally cut the face of an individual at a party. Hankins has a criminal history that spans over 20 years. Hankins received a life sentence. The case was ably prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney Brendan Farrell.
Daniel Robleto was prosecuted for the murder of Butte County resident Lisa Marie Madrid. Miss Madrid’s body was located on Harbeson Road in Colusa County. On Dec. 6, 2017, Robleto received a life sentence.
Jermaine Roberts was prosecuted for domestic violence. Roberts has a history of violence against women and had previously been sentenced to prison for assaulting a woman. Roberts received a sentence of 22 years in state prison.
Santos Rodriguez was convicted of stabbing a fellow inmate while on work crew. The stabbing was gang-related. Rodriguez had previously been convicted of felony gang and felony weapons charges. Rodriguez received a sentence of 11 years, eight months in state prison.
Santiago Ochoa was prosecuted for stabbing and crippling another man. Both men were dating the same woman, which precipitated the assault. Ochoa received 9 years in state prison.
Cuitlahuac Padilla was convicting of assaulting a family member with a firearm. Padilla has a history of violent conduct. Padilla received nine years in state prison.
William Wolfenbarger, a teacher’s aide at Johnson Junior High School, was convicted of viewing child pornography. He received two years in state prison and was ordered by the Court to register as a sex offender.
David Michael Gibson committed a burglary against Fouch and Son Pharmacy in Williams. He was convicted of burglary and evading an officer in a motor vehicle. Gibson received two years in state prison.