Court transcripts prove La Villa mom's "guilty" plea not coerced, attorney says
Sat, 30 Jun 2012 03:41:33 GMT —
Rene Flores has tried close to 30 murder trials as a defense attorney since beginning law practice in 1999.
He recently represented Sandra Reyna, the La Villa mother who's now serving a 20-year prison term, as her court-appointed lawyer.
The sentence is part of a plea deal on a lesser charge from murder in connection to her toddler's death in 2010.
Sandra's mother claims the deal with the prosecution was "coerced."
Debbie Brennan spoke exclusively to Action 4 News earlier this week.
"The attorney had thrown the pen on the table and yelled at her and said sign it, Debbie explained. "He said 20 or 99 years, what do you want... you're fearing for your life there and not seeing your children forever."
Rene says he isn't surprised to hear the wild accusations now made against him.
"Whenever we have an unfavorable result, the defendant or the accused or the accused family actually will come back and suggest that I did not do my job," he said. "I have learned to put in my own safeguards."
They include having at least one witness in the room while he gives an explanation before any plea signature and obtaining an official court transcript of the plea.
"They are admonished at that point whether they are entering a plea freely and voluntarily, whether I, as an attorney, have done my job for them... Whether they are satisfied with my services and my advice and whether anybody has coerced them threatened them or promised them anything in return."
In November 2011, a judge asked Sandra if anyone threatened, forced, or promised her anything in return for a guilty plea.
Sandra answered "no" to all of the judge's questions, according to court documents.
She even answered "yes" when asked if she was satisfied with her attorney's services and advice.
Rene says the record clearly speaks for itself.
Sandra faced life in prison on the original capital murder charge.
She TMll be eligible for parole in September on her 20-year sentence.
Earlier this week, her ex-boyfriend, Adan Acuna, had the murder charge against him dropped.
Sandra cannot appeal her conviction under the terms of her plea agreement.