Felton man apologizes for girlfriend’s fatal beating at his sentencing hearing

April 23, 2013

A Felton man apologized to the family of the woman he fatally beat just minutes before he was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison Tuesday morning.

Richard Arthur Chavez was convicted in January of second-degree murder for the death of his girlfriend and long-time friend, 38-year-old Deanna Dudley. A Santa Cruz County jury deliberated for just a few hours before reaching their verdict.

“I take full responsibility,” Chavez told Dudley’s family, standing before them in yellow jail clothing. “She in no way, shape or form deserved what I did to her.”

He apologized to Dudley’s two children, Stewart and Aubrey Newell, for robbing them of her mother. Her apologized to her parents for robbing them of their daughter, to her sisters and to her friends. Her children, now young adults, did not attend the sentencing.

“You did not deserve this,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”

During a trial that lasted several weeks, defense attorneys never disputed that Chavez hit Dudley multiple times in the head with a heavy flashlight on the night of Feb. 28, 2010 at the home in Felton the couple had recently moved to. But Mark Briscoe and Anthony Robinson did contend that Chavez had not meant to kill her and was not acting with premeditation. They argued the case was one of manslaughter, not murder, or as Briscoe called it in his opening remarks “This is a tragedy, not a murder.” Dudley and Chavez had been drinking the night of her death and became embroiled in a fight that turned physical, one that apparently began over watching the Winter Olympics.

Dudley’s family was unrelenting in their remarks to Chavez at Tuesday’s sentencing.

“Richard, when you killed my daughter, you killed a part of me too,” said her tearful mother, Joey Farmer, who carried an urn containing her daughter’s ashes. “She was your friend for at least 15 years. She had your back.”

She called him a pathetic excuse for man who she had once had compassion for. She showed the court a lock of her daughter’s hair that she has kept, along with a large wooden drum that had belonged to Deanna Dudley.

Dudley’s sister was even more straight forward, telling Chavez “I hate you. I hate what you have done.” Both she and Farmer said they wished the death penalty had been an option. Still, Danielle Dudley said that in her sister’s honor, there was something she needed to do. She paused briefly before saying quietly, “Richard, I forgive you.”

Briscoe urged Judge Stephen Siegel to consider the purpose of sentencing, to remember the need and desire for rehabilitation. He asked that Chavez be sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder charge, but that the one-year sentences for each of two special allegations — that Chavez had a prior prison commitment and that he’d used a deadly weapon — be ordered to run concurrently.

“The question is, ‘What is just?’” he said. “Do we believe punishment for punishment’s sake is a reason for locking someone up and throwing the key away?”

The public defender also rejected the contentions of Dudley’s family and of prosecutors Jeff Rosell and Michael Gilman that his client had shown no emotion or remorse for the death of a woman he loved, a death he had caused.

“I’ve seen Mr. Chavez in custody 36 times since I’ve met him and for the first 18 times, he was bawling,” said Briscoe, emphasizing that Chavez was crying for Deanna Dudley, not himself. “It was difficult to get information from him… he was inconsolable.”

He said Chavez took responsibility from day one, telling police and his attorneys from the get-go “I did it.” He also argued against the prosecution’s contention that Chavez had a history of domestic violence, reminding the judge that there are “few people in this universe for whom you couldn’t go back 25 years and dig up dirt.”

Siegel chose the full 17-year sentence, saying stoically that he didn’t recall Chavez ever acknowledging his wrongdoing, but rather, only acknowledging the negative consequences of his actions.

“This has been a very sad case to be involved in,” Siegel said. “The court doesn’t have the power or the ability to make anyone feel better, or to make anyone feel worse.”

He paused.

“I would hope no one in this room could feel worse about what happened.”

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One Response to Felton man apologizes for girlfriend’s fatal beating at his sentencing hearing

  1. meme scopers
    January 12, 2015 at 12:18 am

    this is very sad!

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