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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Dunsmuir man gets reprieve from life sentence

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  • A former Dunsmuir man serving a life sentence in state prison was resentenced today under a reform of the Three Strikes Act. Joseph David Teran, 59, has been incarcerated for nearly nine years, said Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus. He was last arrested for stealing a chainsaw and video camera on May 26, 2004. “It is our expectation that Mr. Teran will be a law abiding citizen of the community he will soon re-enter, having been given a remarkable reprieve by the voting citizens of California,” Andrus said. Teran became eligible for resentencing after voters approved Proposition 36 in November 2012. The Three Strikes Reform Act amended the law in several respects, Andrus explained. “Previously an individual who had committed two or more prior 'serious' or 'violent' felonies... would face a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for any subsequent felony offense, Andrus explained. “Proposition 36 changed the law so that a life sentence under the Three Strikes Law could only be applied if the defendant's current offense was also a 'serious' or 'violent' felony,” he said. Teran was arrested and charged with felonies for stealing the chainsaw and video camera and three days later, firearms and ammunition were found in his living quarters, Andrus said. He was tried in Siskiyou County Superior Court in October, 2004 for six charges including felon in possession of a firearm, felon in possession of ammunition, two counts of petty theft with prior convictions, possession of stolen property, and grand theft. During the trial, Teran admitted in court to having five separate prior felony convictions including two prior “strike” convictions, said Andrus. “The strike convictions included a residential burglary in Alameda County in 1974 and child endangerment in Siskiyou County in 1999,” Andrus said. On October 29, 2004, Teran was found guilty as charged, and he was sentenced by Judge Robert Kaster, the trial judge, to 128 months plus 25 years to life in state prison. Teran was committed to the California Department of Corrections on January 6, 2005. He was housed at High Desert State Prison outside of Susanville as well as Folsom Prison, and is currently an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, said Andrus. “His attorneys report that he has been in poor health but has been a good student while taking advantage of educational opportunities,” Andrus said. In February, after the passage of Prop. 36, Susan A. Hutcher of the East Bay Community Law Center contacted Andrus about Teran's eligibility for resentencing under the new law. Judge Donald Langford today resentenced Teran under the new law to a maximum of three years in state prison for the theft of the chainsaw, which was doubled because of the 1974 “strike” to six years, plus a consecutive 24 months for the firearm violation and the second theft offense for a total of eight years. Four years was then added for Teran's prior prison commitments for the aggregate term of 12 years in state prison, Andrus said. Hutcher informed the court that Teran had served a total of 3,256 days in custody and he would likely be released within a year after having his “good time” credits calculated. Those credits are limited to no more than 20 percent of his total because of his 1974 strike, Andrus said. Teran's case represents the only Siskiyou County case eligible for resentencing under the new law that has been discovered since it was enacted, said Andrus. Look for more on this story in the Dec. 11 editions of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers.

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