In a case in which Judge Timothy Day said his “hands were tied,” Jose Andrade Morillion pleaded guilty to one felony count of aggravated assault of a pregnant woman, as well as one count of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Morillion faced six counts — two felonies and four misdemeanors — related to longtime abuse of his girlfriend, which included allegedly battering her when she was pregnant with their child. He had been in Teton County Jail since his arrest in May.
As part of an agreement with the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office, he pleaded guilty to the two counts, while the other four were dropped. The agreement stipulated that the five- to 10-year sentence would be suspended in favor of probation, but Day took issue with the deal’s structure.
“Is the state satisfied,” he asked Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan, “that this plea agreement does not require any further jail time or prison time or serve the intended purpose of probation for rehabilitation or managing risk?”
Day’s concern arose from the fact Morillion, who is from Tlaxacala, Mexico, will have to report to immigration authorities because of his felony conviction. If he does not serve prison time, that will result in him being deported, and the stated rehabilitative aim of probation cannot apply if Morillion is not in the country.
Allan and Morillion’s lawyer, Elisabeth Trefonas, told Day that the plea agreement was the best-case scenario. The victim in the case, who is raising their child by herself, did not want to testify at trial, and Allan told the Jackson Hole Daily that she did not want him to go to the penitentiary either.
The lawyers said the plea agreement avoided a trial and still ensured Morillion isn’t in the community anymore and is away from the victim. Day, however, said he wasn’t happy with the arrangement, because Morillion, who also faces a misdemeanor possession of cocaine charge, wouldn’t receive the counseling and treatment that would be mandated for someone on probation.
He ultimately relented and accepted the agreement.
“This is not one of the circumstances where the court will preempt the decision made by the state and you,” Day said. “You should not consider that what you did was OK.
“Reading the probable cause affidavit is enough to make any reasonable person’s blood boil,” Day said.
Several times Day directed questions to Morillion regarding the plea agreement and his potential for rehabilitation. The defendant responded to the judge’s questions by saying just “yes” or “no” through an interpreter.
Morillion was sentenced to a decade of probation, though Day read his probationary requirements in resigned tones, considering Morillion will likely be unable to follow any of them. He was sentenced to 196 days in prison, though since he received credit for the 196 he had already served in the Teton County Jail, he was not given additional days behind bars.
Because Morillion will not be able to fulfill the terms of his probation, Allan asked Day for a warrant to be placed on Morillion. That means that once he is deported, if he comes back to Wyoming at any time, he will be arrested, something Allan noted would be a deterrent to him returning.
Though Day was unhappy with the outcome, he noted that the victim’s desire to not testify was important and played into his decision to accept the agreement.