A Fresno gang member who was given his freedom after a jury found him not guilty of dragging a police officer down a street with his SUV is back behind bars on charges of burglary and robbery.
Jesse Mora, 32, was arrested Feb. 17 – 10 days after he was given a plea deal in Fresno County Superior Court.
On Feb. 7, Judge Brian Alvarez placed Mora on three years of supervised release after a jury in December found him not guilty of felony assault of Officer Darren Nelson, who suffered cuts after he was dragged down a street by Mora’s SUV in April 2015. Instead, jurors found him guilty of three misdemeanor charges, including simple assault and resisting arrest.
The supervised release was part of a plea deal in which Mora pleaded no contest to a felony charge of using force or violence to resist a police officer. In sentencing Mora, the judge took note of Mora’s nearly two years in jail and good-time credits.
In announcing the sentence, Alvarez told Mora he would be supervised by probation and ordered him to stay out of trouble and away from drugs, including marijuana, and dangerous weapons.
Mora was placed on supervised release on Feb. 8 as part of a plea deal in which he pleaded no contest to a felony charge of using force or violence to resist a police officer.
But a few days after Mora’s sentencing hearing, police received a report of a man cursing a woman and scaring her after she found him stealing speakers from her car on College Avenue south of Belmont Avenue, Fresno police Lt. Joe Gomez said.
Police got a break because the man dropped his cellphone in the victim’s car, Gomez said. The cellphone belonged to Mora, the lieutenant said.
Once Mora was identified as a suspect, police obtained a warrant to search his home. Inside, police found stolen property, including a video game console that had been stolen in January.
Mora is a suspect in the theft of the video game console because after his trial in December, Judge John Vogt allowed him to be released from jail as long as he wore an ankle monitor. Gomez said an investigation revealed that Mora’s ankle monitor showed he was in the area where the video game console was taken during a burglary on Jan. 25.
Police got a break in the robbery because the suspect dropped his cellphone in the victim’s car. The cellphone belonged to Mora, police said.
Mora’s arraignment on the robbery and burglary charges is pending. He is being held in the Fresno County Jail without bail. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison for violating his supervised release and additional time behind bars for the robbery and burglary charges.
Police say Mora is a known gang member with a long criminal history who was on felony probation when he encountered Nelson and several other police officers during a report of a domestic disturbance on April 22, 2015, in a neighborhood near Palm and Olive avenues in the Tower District.
During the trial, defense lawyer Maribel Romo said Mora got scared when police surrounded his SUV because he had marijuana in his pocket. He panicked and drove off, but never intended to hurt the officer, Romo told the jury.
Prosecutor Andrew Janz, however, argued that Mora was a danger to society because he put Nelson’s life at risk when he took off without warning. Nelson testified during the trial that he held on to Mora as he drove off because he feared he would be run over by the SUV. He said the SUV reached speeds of up to 30 to 40 mph before he let go. Because of his injuries, Nelson told the jury, he missed a week of work.
Mora drove to his home in the 1100 block of North Thorne Avenue. Soon after, officers and a police dog named Faris arrested Mora, who was treated for dog bites.