Story of Michael Ray Mason
|My fiancé is Michael Ray Mason. He is represented by James
Pearce. Pearce does Public Defender work, but Michaels parents retained
him to represent Michael.
This whole nightmare started on November 5, 2000. Michael was driving an RV, we had borrowed from some friends (it was not stolen, it was not reported stolen either) and it stalled. He was on the side of the road trying to get it started when he saw an elderly woman drive by scowling at him. Shortly afterwards RPD (Redding Police) pulled up, as well as a man in another vehicle. Michael was holding a flashlight and the man in the truck simply insisted it had been stolen from his truck. (It wasnít true, the flashlight was purchased at Ace Hardware, we had a receipt for it, but Michael didnít have it on him.) Based on the flashlight the police officer searched the RV and found possible stolen property. A bag of keys and stolen DMV tags in a jacket pocket. They charged Michael with the stolen Tags but they returned the jacket to the owner of the RV.
They took Michael in and questioned him for approximately 8 hours-that was the length of time it took them to get a search warrant for our residence. In our residence they found stolen property, drugs and paraphernalia. They charged me with all of the drugs and paraphernalia and they only charged Michael with the stolen property. (I have been completely clean and sober since.) If you ask me, they did that to ensure that he wouldnít be offered any drug treatment. The arresting officer told me Michael appeared to be under the influence and there were fresh track marks on his arms, but that is not written in any of the police reports.
Michael was arrested and charged with 3 counts (I think it started off with 3) of receiving stolen property. His parents arranged for his Bail and he was out of Jail approximately 1 week later. 3 Days after he was released from jail the police showed up at our door and arrested him again. They said they had just finished going through the stuff they had confiscated and were bringing a total of 12 new charges against him. In court his bail was increased to half a million-for committing a crime while out on Bail (there was a warrant issued, they consider that a new crime). Of course that was too much money so heís sat in jail ever since and his parents are still paying for a bail that only lasted 3 days.
A couple of months after his arrest the man who had insisted his flashlight was stolen came forward and said he had found his flashlight, so the charge was dropped. This is the charge that the whole case was based on. But there has been no mention that maybe the search of the RV was illegal to begin with.
On the day of Michaelís preliminary hearing, his arresting officers came to see him. They said ďif you waive your preliminary hearing, the DA will not pursue 25 to Life. (3 strikes) Michael waived the Preliminary hearing, the DA retracted his pursuit of 25 to life, and then two weeks later, at a settlement conference, the DA said he was pursuing 25 to life. You see, they simply tricked him, because they are charging him with a lot that they canít prove. Also, they have stacked his charges, so the DA is saying in court that he has 28 charges, 2 petty thefts with priors, 1 2nd degree vehicle burglary, and all of the rest are receiving stolen property. Whatís hilarious is these stolen items are things like, a pair of sunglasses. He has a felony charge for a pair of $12.00 sunglasses that were stolen from a womanís dashboard. I think the most valuable thing they arrested him for was a credit card.
When probation interviewed him, her report stated that there are fourteen separate acts that occurred on different dates, meaning that the sentences have to be consecutive; she said legally, they have to sentence him to 365 years. (Iím pretty sure thatís what the total is.) Throughout these 3 years that he has been in the jail there have been various verbal offers that the DA has not honored. 6 months ago she offered to ďover-lookĒ one strike and let him choose which charges to plead to, as long as the sentence equals 18 years @ 80%. Thatís insane, he did not hurt anyone. There is no violence in his record. A month after that sheíd offer him 32 years and claims that she never offered him 18years. We donít know if Michael has misunderstood his lawyer, if the lawyer is lying to us or the DA is playing games. Itís just strange how the DAís offer seems to change every time we go to court, itís more years every time, in most cases the years go down, not up.
The funny thing is, he was given 2 strikes on one case back in 1995. Vehicle burglary, residential burglary and petty theft. It was the only time heís ever been in serious trouble, his first time to prison, they gave him a maximum term of 8 years and two strikes. The original deal he signed at the settlement conference was for one strike; the DA changed it and gave him two strikes at sentencing. He had a public defender at the time that told him she was sorry she didnít do better for him, but she was going through a lot in her life and on pain medication. That all sounds pretty suspicious to me. It seems like there should be room for an appeal there.
He is officially going to trial now. He canít decide between trial by jury, or trial by judge. The DA has threatened him that if he goes to trial he could get 500 years. Keep in mind; these are charges that would normally be misdemeanors.
Iíve seen sex offenders, habitual criminals and known violent offenders get better deals than this, what is going on?
He is not receiving fair treatment under the law. We plan to investigate other cases in the county that were treated differently, isnít everyone entitled to equal treatment?
Three Strikes Legal - Index