Esmeralda Soria, president of the Fresno City Council, trembled Friday as she told a judge how she felt when a burglar awakened her in March this year after he broke into the home of her boyfriend, developer Terance Frazier.
“I felt personally violated,” Soria told Fresno Superior Court Judge Timothy Kams. “I was filled with fear.”
Frazier told the judge he also was fearful and worried about the safety of Soria and his three children sleeping in his home in Fresno’s Fig Garden area on a quiet Sunday morning.
Frazier jumped out of bed and wrestled with with intruder, Jacob Randall Flanagan, until sheriff’s deputies arrived. Frazier told Kams that if had not tackled Flanagan, Flanagan would have been able to arm himself with a crowbar that he left in the back yard.
“This was a very violent crime,” Frazier said.
Soria and Frazier asked Kams to sentence Flanagan to the maximum term of six years in prison. But Kams sentenced Flanagan to four years in prison, citing Flanagan’s lack of a criminal record and his remorse for his crime.
Afterward, Soria and Frazier said they received justice because Kams held Flanagan accountable.
On Sept. 17, Flanagan, 31, pleaded no contest to residential burglary.
In court papers, defense lawyer Tina Wang said Flanagan is an addict whose abuse of methamphetamine led to him to burglarize Frazier’s home on the morning of March 11.
The night before the incident, Flanagan abused methamphetamine and ended up wandering into Frazier’s neighborhood, Wang said. He went into Frazier’s backyard around 9:25 a.m. and opened a door that led to the master bedroom.
Frazier and Soria were sleeping when Flanagan walked into the bedroom. Once the burglar spotted the couple, he tried to leave but could not find his way out.
Wang said Flanagan did not start the altercation with Frazier and did not hurt Frazier or Soria or steal or damage any of their property. Flanagan’s face, however, was bloody, she noted in court papers. Once arrested, Flanagan cooperated with deputies and admitted his methamphetamine use.
After the incident, Frazier posted on his Facebook page that a “meth head” broke into his home near Ashlan and Maroa avenues. Along with a picture of the bloodied burglar, Frazier stated on his public social media post that the suspect “won’t be back.”
At Friday’s heaing, prosecutor Jamie Kalebjian told the judge that Soria and Frazier and his family “have a right to feel safe in their home.”
But Flanagan’s parents, Joe and Stephanie Flanagan, asked Kams in a telephone call from Las Vegas to have mercy on their son. They said he was a good person who became a criminal because of drug abuse.
They promised to help their son once he got out of prison.
Soria told Kams she was “sick and tired” of criminals like Flanagan who break into people’s homes. Soria urged the judge to impose the maximum sentencing, saying people in Fresno should be able to live in a safe environment.
Frazier brought up race in his statements to the court. He said he was concerned about Flanagan getting off with a light sentence because he is white. “It would be a disgrace to give him probation or less time,” Frazier said.
“I am the victim. My family is the victim,” Frazier told the judge. “Please don’t victimize us again.”
His statement caused Kams to pause and ask Frazier if his comments were directed at him. Frazier said no, but said his research into the criminal justice system shows that oftentimes African Americans are punished more severely than white defendants.
In announcing the punishment, Kams said Flanagan’s crime was not the work of a sophisticated criminal. Instead, the crime was the result of a homeless drug addict looking for something to steal to feed his habit.