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Attorney wants conviction tossed out

By Staff | Jul 19, 2010

Joaquin Rodriguez

An attorney for a Faribault County inmate is asking the court to toss out an assault conviction.

Last month, 31-year-old Joaquin DeJesus Rodriguez was acquitted of third-degree assault, however, he was found guilty of fifth-degree assault.

Rodriguez was initially charged with a third-degree felony for punching Ronald Daniel Gaston when both were being held at the county jail on March 28.

Gaston suffered a fractured jaw and was required to have surgery at a Mankato hospital.

Two days before the start of a one-day trial, County Attorney Brian Roverud added the second charge.

In the amended complaint, the county attorney elevated the fifth-degree assault to a felony, citing Rodriguez was convicted of two previous qualified domestic violence-related offenses within three years.

In “motion to dismiss” papers dated July 9, Troy Timmerman argues his client was denied due process rights because the amended complaint was not properly served.

Timmerman says under state law, the court also is required to determine if the defendant’s rights would not be prejudiced by the new charge.

“The jury clearly thought they were convicting the defendant of a misdemeanor offense,” he says.

The fifth-degree felony assault carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, the same as a third-degree assault.

Timmerman says sentencing guidelines reach a result “that is absurd,” by imposing an identical sentence for a crime that is lesser than the offense that Rodriguez was found innocent of.

The defense attorney also questioned use of a statute that characterizes an assault conviction by his client as a “qualified domestic violence-related offense.”

“Neither the present offense nor the previous conviction were domestic assault type of offenses,” he says.

Rodriguez has been in jail since Feb. 25, when Winnebago police arrested him on a warrant for another law enforcement agency.

He is scheduled to appear in court today for sentencing.