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Labeled a ‘hot felon,’ she says you aren’t getting the full story

Here's what Fresno's 'hot felon' thinks of your eggplant emojis

Mirella Ponce shared some thoughts with the Bee about the overwhelming social media reaction that made her police mugshot go viral last week.
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Mirella Ponce shared some thoughts with the Bee about the overwhelming social media reaction that made her police mugshot go viral last week.

After being released from jail on Nov. 1, Mirella Ponce went home and read the news stories about her, along with the comments on her mugshot after it became an internet sensation.

“I was like, ‘whoa.’ I couldn’t stop laughing,” she recalled Thursday. “It’s funny how things could just happen to anyone.”

The 20-year-old Fresno woman was arrested Oct. 23 during a traffic stop when police found her carrying a loaded gun while her 1-year-old daughter was in the car. She spent eight days in jail before pleading guilty to a felony charge of being a gang member in possession of a gun. She will be sentenced in December.

During the 15 hours Ponce spent in the jail’s booking facility, her mugshot garnered thousands of shares and hundreds of comments. When she finally got to her jail pod, another inmate already knew her name. “She was like, ‘Yeah girl, you were on the news,’” Ponce said.

Though some comments were from women commenting on her makeup skills, others were from men suggesting she should work as a stripper or saying they’d gang rape her.

“Some fellas were like ‘Oh, we would run a train on her,’ and ‘she should be a porn star,’ things like that,” said Ponce, who also has a 3-year-old son. “Things like that bothered me. Like, why would you say that? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want somebody speaking like that about your mother, sister, or your daughter or your niece.”

Why would you say that? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want somebody speaking like that about your mother, sister, or your daughter or your niece.

Mirella Ponce, whose mugshot went viral after she was arrested last month

And after news cameras were shoved in her face when she was released from jail, many posted photos of the video shot that showed her without makeup, saying the public was “catfished” and she wasn’t as pretty as she was in her mugshot.

Ponce’s response? She posted a no-makeup selfie to Facebook next to her mugshot and the TV shot with a message.

“Everyone looks completely different without makeup, especially getting out of jail. This is me. With absolutely NO makeup, not even eyebrows on lol. Just simply ME. Take a look in the mirror before you decide to try to bring someone down. Beauty comes from within not what’s on the outside.”

Strangers have approached her in public, such as in Walmart and while she’s eating at restaurants, and people from as far as Europe have sent her messages on Snapchat.

Ponce has expressed remorse for her crime and intentions to work for a better future for herself and her two children. She wants people to know she’s more than a “hot felon.”

“People shouldn’t judge anybody they don’t know,” she said. “They just know the girl with the gun with her daughter in the car from the mugshot. They don’t know the family member, the good mama, the sweet person, the funny, goofy, silly girl. Everybody just knows that bad image of me.”

Her defense attorney, Martin Taleisnik with Sawl Law Group, agrees. It’s not fair to “pigeon hole” her, he said.

Taleisnik said Ponce is sincere about turning her life around.

Ponce alluded to a Bible verse about judgment, saying “He who is without sin, please throw the first rock because we are not all perfect.”

Since her release, she has done a photo shoot with a local photographer and said she would pursue modeling if the opportunity presents itself.

Ponce said she’s also received a lot of positive support from people on social media.

She thanked Taleisnik for representing her in court, too: “If it wasn’t for him, I would still be in jail.”

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