Wednesday Jun 10 2009
Gilson’s attorney argues ‘pivotal’ factors not investigated
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Prosecution says Gilson ‘knowingly’ gave guilty plea
ROSEVILLE - Whether a Foresthill woman will be able to withdraw her guilty plea is in the hands of a Placer County judge. Traci Nicole Gilson, 21, appeared in a Roseville courtroom Wednesday afternoon to withdraw a guilty plea she entered in March on a charge of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury. The charge stems from a November incident during which she allegedly set her boyfriend, Allan Lane Scott, of Foresthill, on fire. Linda Parisi, Gilson’s defense attorney, argued that “pivotal” factors were not considered when Gilson’s first attorney negotiated a four-year prison sentence plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office. She said Gilson was possibly a victim of battered woman’s syndrome and that should have been examined by an expert. “Our focus is on battered woman’s syndrome,” Parisi said. “Clearly it was an area that should’ve been investigated more fully.” Prosecutor Joe McInerney argued that Parisi was detracting from the matter at hand and that was to decide whether there was evidence Gilson did not knowingly and intelligently enter her guilty plea. “She signed various advisements about her rights,” McInerney said. “She had the court discuss with her the consequence of her plea. That should be a starting point as to whether the plea was voluntary.” During the hearing, Parisi called to the stand Gilson’s first defense attorney, chief public defender John Richter. When questioned, Richter said in hindsight he should have ordered an expert to review whether Gilson was a victim of battered woman’s syndrome. However, he said he was “pessimistic” as to how successful that defense would be in front of a jury. He explained that he was not sure a jury would see setting another person on fire as a “proportionate response” to being previously abused. He added that Gilson had a pending theft charge that would have been presented in trial as well as vandalism charges. When asked how the plea deal decision was reached, Richter explained that Gilson could have initially faced a15 to 20-year term in prison if convicted in a trial. “The risk of going to trial outweighed the deal,” Richter said. “I wasn’t happy with the deal but I vigorously negotiated this case to try to get a better deal.” The District Attorney’s Office offered a five-year sentence, which Richter then said was lowered to four years the day Gilson agreed to the plea. Richter said he was told the offer was on the table for just that day although Gilson had expressed a desire to seek an opinion from different counsel. When he advised Gilson, she accepted. Judge Jeffrey Penney said he would take the matter into submission. He is expected to rule on the motion Monday on whether to withdraw Gilson’s guilty plea. Parisi closed saying that Gilson should be entitled to withdraw her plea so other matters could be more fully investigated. “At the time of the plea, she wanted time for further discussion or a second opinion,” Parisi said. “That was not afforded Ms. Gilson.” McInerney said the defense failed to establish “clear and convincing” evidence to withdraw the plea. “Ms. Gilson made a knowingly and intelligent decision when she chose to accept the plea bargain,” McInerney said. Gilson is scheduled to appear in Placer County Superior Court at 2:30 p.m. May 15 in Dept. 31 at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment.