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Defendant chooses prison over probation

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 15th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Andres Rosendo had a choice.

He could either go to state prison for first-degree criminal trespass, or he could remain free under supervised probation.

Normally, one might expect a defendant and his attorney to ask the court for the lightest possible sentence, while the district attorney’s office would push for a harsher punishment.

But when the time came for Rosendo to be sentenced on Jan. 10, the 20-year-old man upended those expectations.

Although he faced a potential penalty of up to three years behind bars, Rosendo and his public defender urged 12th Judicial District Chief Judge Pattie Swift to impose a prison sentence.

“I’m just trying to stay out of trouble,” he said during brief remarks to the court.

Judge Swift told Rosendo that his request flies in the face of everything the court knows and voiced reservations that a prison term would help him over the long run.

But ultimately, she acknowledged that the choice was his to make.

Once she ensured he was entering his plea voluntarily, she sentenced him to 18 months in state prison, with credit for time served.

In addition to the prison time, Rosendo previously agreed to pay his victims $3,840 in restitution.

The potential penalties could have been much steeper.

Prosecutors originally charged Rosendo in connection with two separate — yet similar — cases.

In the first case, he faced two felony counts of first-degree criminal trespass, felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor theft.

Those charges date back to 2011, when Rosendo threw a cement block through a car window in the 100 block of Broadway Avenue, smashed the window of a second car and broke into a beauty salon across the street.

While he stole items from both cars, including a set of rosary beads, he left traces of his DNA behind.

Police found drops and smears of blood on the inside of the first car and on the cement block; smidgens of blood also turned up on the middle console latch of the second vehicle.

The department sent the samples to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for analysis, and it soon learned they matched Rosendo’s blood. Subsequent lab tests of Rosendo’s blood confirmed the samples were identical.

The next May, Rosendo broke into the Lookin’ Good Hair Salon, causing over $1,200 in estimated damages or losses, according to a police report on the incident.

That incident led to new charges of felony second-degree burglary, misdemeanor criminal mischief and misdemeanor theft.

However, prosecutors dismissed that case in exchange for his guilty plea to the earlier charge of criminal trespass.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy was initially prepared to recommend probation for Rosendo, even though the court previously revoked the young man’s probationary status. The original recommendation made a lot of sense, Loy said, considering the fact that Rosendo now owes nearly $4,000 in restitution.

But in light of the fact that Rosendo rejected that recommendation, Loy asked the court to impose an 18-month sentence.

Deputy Public Defender Amanda Hopkins suggested a minimal prison sentence was necessary, telling the court her client was compliant in both cases.

“He immediately took responsibility for what he had done,” she said.

Still, she acknowledged that Rosendo had a lot of trouble complying with the terms of his probation, and said he did not believe he could succeed under similar terms or conditions.

Instead of delaying the inevitable, the court should sentence him to prison, Hopkins said.

Judge Swift told Rosendo he probably won’t remain in prison for long: There’s a good chance that he’ll be sent back out to Community Corrections, she said.

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