Thursday, July 30, 2009

Plea Deal in murder case

One suspect in 2008 Cutten killing takes plea deal

One of two defendants accused of participating in a December 2008 home invasion robbery that left a Cutten man dead pleaded no contest Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter and related drug charges.

Jury selection for the trial of Jason Leon Belles, 31, and Jonathan Henry Watson, 30, was set to begin Monday but Belles pleaded Tuesday to reduced charges. He will be sentenced Aug. 21. The stipulated term of the plea deal was seven years and eight months in prison, according to court documents.

Belles' attorney William Bragg said that although they felt Belles had a good defense for the jury trial, Belles did not want to risk a life sentence.

”My client evaluated the risk involved in the case of taking it to trial and was not willing to risk the rest of his life on that,” Bragg said. “I could not guarantee my client that I could win the case. No attorney can.”

With good behavior, Belles may only have to serve 85 percent of his proposed sentence, or about six-and-a-half years, minus time already served, Bragg said.

Belles accepted the plea deal from Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza that reduced a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter; a first-degree burglary charge to transporting more than an ounce of marijuana; and a first-degree attempted robbery charge to possessing marijuana for sale, according to court documents. A second attempted robbery charge was dismissed.....

Watson's jury trial is now scheduled to begin Aug. 5 with jury selection beginning Aug. 3, according to court documents. He is charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The name of the victim, not mentioned in the article, was ◼ 27-year-old Garrett Ryan Benson Belles had been initially held on suspicion of murder, robbery of an inhabited dwelling and conspiracy.


  1. Ok, you break into someone's house, to commit a felony, kill him, and get vol man? No robbery? No murder?
    Max knows his stuff, but still, this is a HUGE win for Bragg. Can you even get a manslaughter verdict if you break into someone's house to commit a crime and then kill them? Is that eligible for manslaughter?
    No doubt the T/S will ask the hard questions and get to the bottom of this. Or The DA will tell us, in the interest of transparency.

  2. Pretty sad, even if he wasn't the "triggerman". If there was any mention of him testifying against his co-conspirator I missed it. I hope they at least got that much. Was there any approval by the vic's family on this? How can they be happy? Max is just plain lazy for doing this.

  3. Pinch me, this can't be happening. Isn't manslaughter what the DA charged Douglas and Zanotti with?
    Isn't this the DA who tried PALCO through 4 courts? And he puts all 4 paws in the air for a home invasion robbery murder? And if he made a deal for this testimony, won't that
    have a lot of credibility.
    And remember the campaign slogan he used? Equal Justice for All. Forget the pinch, gag me.

  4. Hey Stephen, is Eric Kirk still blocking you from his blog?

  5. Rose, are you going to Reggae Rising this year?

  6. With a "no contest" plea I doubt if the DA's office has him locked into testifying.

    Sounds like a sweet deal to me. Too sweet.

  7. Oh, the irony of it all. Gags runs on a pro-pot ticket and gets the job with a reputation of dishonesty and incompetence.People then move to this county and start growing like mad, destroying our natural resources, vandalizing our low and moderate income housing and there are now shootings in our streets and home invasion robberies left and right. Good families live in fear or have to move. Now here's where I am torn: On one hand if Gallegos let's a cold blooded murderer of a dope grower off with a slap on the wrist, the green dope folks sort of got what they elected and deserved. But this is not the rest of the community wh tried to keep this shitty DA from ruining this place deserve and it is not what the family of the murdered man deserve. This Cardoza guy needs to be fired along with his boss

  8. I saw this on TV Rose and thought of you

  9. I guarantee Rose already owns one of those bedside gun rests


Comments are open, but moderated, for the time-being. Good luck.