The Honorable Judge Gil T. Justice held a special session Tuesday, July 31, to hear the charges and pleas against mayoral candidate, Aria de Saragosa.
District Attorney, Evelyna Stone announced the charges brought against De Saragosa, “We have two cases involving the Defendant, Aria de Saragosa. The first set of charges are Assault; Aggravated, Felony, Battery, Aggravated, Felony, Witness/Victim Intimidation, Felony. The second case involved the charges of Disturbing the peace, Misdemeanor and DUI, 1st offense, Misdemeanor."
De Saragosa’s defense counsel, Ari Rothstein, entered an Alford’s plea of guilt for the lesser of the crimes, including Disturbing the peace and the Misdemeanor of the DUI charge.
An Alford plea is a guilty plea from a defendant that proclaims innocence. This type of plea is entered when the accused has made the decision to plead guilty based on evidence against them, but takes no acceptance or admittance to the crime itself.
With this Alford plea, the defendant accepted hours of community service and mandatory counseling. De Saragosa will be serving these hours when the election on August 8 commences.
Court continued Tuesday with the more serious charges against de Saragosa that have the possibility of years of jail time if she is convicted. The plea of not guilty was put in for de Saragosa by her defense counsel on the Felony charges.
Rothstein then asked for a continuance, “to allow the police to investigate the alleged victim's latest act of criminal aggression. This is relevant to this case. This shows a pattern of feuding behavior between both my client [de Saragosa] and [the alleged victim in the assault]." He went on to say, “There are reasonable doubts here. In fact, my client and [alleged victim]’s troubles go all the way back to Hathian [Louisiana]. This feud is not new, your honor. This is just the latest chapter of it.”
In a somewhat unprecedented move, Judge Gil T. Justice convened a small counsel at his bench of the District Attorney Stone and de Saragosa. Within two minutes of the meeting, Judge Justice announced the outcome, “Case is continued to give the defendant more time to prepare.”
De Saragosa will return to court in the coming weeks to face the criminal trial on her felony charges.