LANCASTER – The criminal case against David Grajeda, the 26-year-old man charged with disrupting a public meeting based on his actions at a Lancaster Criminal Justice Commission meeting, ended Wednesday morning when both sides agreed to a resolution in the case.
The misdemeanor charge against Grajeda for disrupting a public meeting was dismissed; in exchange, Grajeda pleaded no contest to another misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace. The disturbing the peace charge was added by prosecutors Tuesday as a means of resolving the case after Grajeda’s defense attorney told the court Grajeda would not be settling the charge for disrupting a public meeting because it was a “matter of principle.”
Upon pleading no contest to disturbing the peace, Grajeda was immediately sentenced to three years’ summary probation and 30 days of community service. Grajeda was given 32 days credit for the 16 days he spent in county jail last year. The credit was applied towards his community service requirement, relieving him from serving any actual community service. Grajeda was also ordered to pay a restitution fee of $120 and served with a stay away order banning him from Lancaster City Hall for the next three years.
The plea deal Grajeda struck Wednesday also covered the criminal charges filed against Grajeda for his most recent arrest on April 8, 2012. According to authorities, Grajeda approached his ex-girlfriend and her new beau outside a Palmdale movie theater, followed them, and then challenged the man to a fight. The man retrieved a Taser from his vehicle and shot Grajeda with it.
Grajeda was arrested for violating a family court restraining order that bans him from talking to his ex-girlfriend or seeing his child. He spent the night in jail and was ordered to appear in court for a hearing in June.
Per the terms of the plea deal struck Wednesday, Grajeda pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of violating a restraining order in connection with the April 8 arrest. In exchange, Grajeda was sentenced to serve three years’ summary probation to run concurrent with his first sentence [for disturbing the peace] and ordered to take a 52-week domestic violence course and pay $400 in victim restitution. Prosecutors also agreed to dismiss a ticket against Grajeda for jaywalking. Grajeda said he had received the ticket last week for running across the street near his home on Avenue I in Lancaster.
Wednesday’s plea deal wraps up a legal saga that has stretched on for nearly seven months. Grajeda, a frequent speaker and critic at Lancaster City Council meetings, was arrested on Oct. 25, 2011 as he attempted to enter a City Council meeting. He was charged with interfering with a public meeting based on his actions at an Oct. 12 Criminal Justice Commission meeting. View video of those actions here. Grajeda’s bail was initially set at $5,000 for the misdemeanor charge, but was later raised to $25,000. Grajeda was jailed for 16 days before bailing out on Nov. 9, 2011 and then hit with a restraining order barring him from Lancaster City Hall.
Grajeda has maintained his innocence throughout his case and previously vowed to fight the case to the end. Several city officials, including Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris and Vice Mayor Ron Smith, were named as potential witnesses in the jury trial.
Shortly after his plea deal was approved Wednesday, Grajeda said that while he was satisfied with the overall outcome, he would have preferred to fight for an acquittal of all charges filed in connection with his behavior at city hall. But he said he was compelled to take the plea bargain instead because of his April 8 arrest.
“If I had controlled my emotions better, this would be a different outcome because I wouldn’t have anything looming over my head,” Grajeda said. “It comes down now to pride or family and family wins out.”
Grajeda said he is looking forward to moving out of the Antelope Valley for a fresh start. His plea agreement allows him to complete the terms of his sentence in another jurisdiction.
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