Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
“The Record misinterpreted me,” said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Lester Fleming, as several people assembled in front of the San Joaquin County Courthouse to protest the notion prosecutors were about to accept “a deal” on the case against the people responsible for the death of farmworker Maria Isabel Vazquez on a Farmington vineyard back in 2008.
According to the investigation, Vazquez, then 17-years old, suffered a heat stroke after laboring several hours under a 95-degree heat, where shade and water availability was either too far or non-existing. The DA pressed involuntary manslaughter charges against the owner and two supervisors of the now-defunct Merced Farm Labor Contractors.
This Wednesday, July 28, 2010, ten people carrying wooden and cardboard crosses signifying farmworkers’ deaths throughout the Central Valley stood by the stairs leading to the building’s main entrance, displaying printout copies of the daily The Record’s July 15, 2010 article “Deal could spare jail in farm worker death” that suggests prosecutors made a deal with the defense “to save the court some time.”
Facing reporters and TV cameras, Fleming called the Record article “inaccurate” He explained it was common for the prosecution to enter in conversations with the defense to expedite cases, but he denied he or anyone else in his department had reach any agreements to forgo jail time for the accused in lieu of just a fine. “That will be a decision that Mr. (San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney James) Willett will be making” adding later that they had already have made a decision and that was to pursue the case without compromise.
The case will be presented to Court on Thursday, July 29th, where a judge will evaluate if there’s enough evidence to guarantee a trial.