Crime & Courts: Convicted felon claims plea was coerced 

A convicted felon who faced a jury before and lost wants to have another shot at staying out of state prison. 

Rodolfo Martinez Madrigal, Jr., 28, of Grimes, who pleaded guilty in July to assault with a deadly weapon, with special allegations of using a firearm and having a prior prison record, is now claiming his admission of guilt was coerced by his attorney and is asking the court to have his plea reversed. 

Madrigal, Jr. was originally charged with attempted murder and a host of other felony charges, including possession of a sawed-off shot gun (considered in California to be “indicia of criminal purpose”), following an altercation with his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in Grimes on Feb. 26. He was arrested on March 7 after a search warrant was served on a cell phone discovered after the shooting.  

The Colusa County Sheriff’s Department alleges that Madrigal Jr. fired shots at the victim following an argument witnessed by a neighbor and then fled the scene in a dark-colored Honda sedan, driven by someone else. While Task Force officials were en route to the incident, they observed the Honda entering Colusa. 

Sheriff’s officials said that after the driver turned onto Wescott Road they saw the weapon tossed from the passenger-side window. When they initiated a traffic stop, the Honda stopped on Larson Lane, but the driver sped off at a high rate of speed when the officers got out of their vehicle, evading capture, the Sheriff’s Office said. 

Madrigal was arrested the following week after a search warrant was also served at his girlfriend’s residence in Grimes where the convicted felon was living, which turned up a 12-guage shot gun shell and .22 caliber ammunition, the Sheriff’s Office said.  

Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson has assigned Public Defender John K. Hinely to represent Madrigal Jr. in his quest to have his guilty plea reversed.  

If successful, Madrigal Jr. could then try to negotiate a new deal or face a jury on the original charges, including two special allegations related to his past history of violence. 

In 2011, Madrigal Jr. was convicted of stabbing a rival gang member, in Chico, following a St. Patrick’s Day altercation near Madison Bear Garden. 

Although Madrigal Jr. took the stand in his own defense in that case to deny he was involved in the stabbing, he admitted to being a gang member since the age of 13. 

A Butte County judge sentenced Madrigal Jr. to two years in state prison for assault with a deadly weapon with an additional five years for the special allegation that the incident was gang related.

Thompson has ordered the court reporter to provide the District Attorney’s office with a transcript of the July 24 hearing in which Madrigal Jr. pleaded guilty to reduced charges in the Colusa County case in exchange for having three other felony charges stricken or dismissed. 

Thompson traditionally grills defendants entering their pleas on whether their admissions are forced or coerced. He also warned Madrigal Jr. that if he is in the country illegally, his conviction could result in deportation. 

Madrigal Jr. will next appear in Colusa County Superior Court on Oct. 2, in which the judge could either grant his application to withdraw his plea or move forward with sentencing. ■