Judge Nixes DA’s No Prison Plea Agreement For Abusive Nanny

SAN BERNARDINO–(June 18) A Superior Court Judge on Wednesday, June 17, rejected a plea arrangement worked out between San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and the attorneys for a nanny caught abusing a Redlands toddler who was entrusted to her care.
Ramos had consented to having one of his deputy prosecutors, Maryann Choi, accept Gina Halliburton’s guilty plea in exchange for no jail time and four years probation.
Halliburton was charged with PC 273A, willful cruelty to a child which entailed the possibility of inflicting grave injury or death, after a video camera set up by the parents of 22-month old Preston Scott caught her on April 23, 2014 stuffing a bib into the child’s mouth.
Halliburton is represented by attorneys Michael Scafitti and Ron Powell. Earlier this spring, the defendant, after conferring with Scafitti and Powell, had consented to plead guilty. On May 5, before Judge William Jefferson Powell, Halliburton withdrew her previous plea of not guilty. She was informed of the elements of the charges and, according the court record of the proceedings a “factual basis [for the charges was] established.” Halliburton then pleaded nolo contendere to the PC 273A count. Judge Powell accepted the plea and found Halliburton guilty as charged. Her sentencing was set for June 17.
On June 17, Halliburton was back in Powell’s courtroom for her sentencing hearing. With attorney Ron Powell and deputy district attorney Choi present as well as Preston Scott’s mother, Shawna Scott, and his grandfather, Richard Scott, in attendance, Judge Powell indicated he had read and considered the probation officer’s report. There followed an off-the-record conference in chambers between the judge and attorneys. When the on-the-record proceedings resumed, Judge Powell indicated he was not inclined to proceed at that time. Judge Powell stated, “Facts were raised in the probation report which cause concern. It appears to me the plea in this case between the parties is inappropriate.” Elements in the plea agreement he found objectionable, Judge Powell said were “specifically no time in custody and a grant of felony probation.” He then indicated, “This appears to be a case which deserves state prison. Court does not accept the plea agreement.”
The Sentinel has learned that the probation report characterized Halliburton as a non-repentant “bully,” who had not come to terms with the gravity of her action. Rather, according to the report, her “expressions of remorse appear coached” and calculated to obtain leniency from the court. Accepting the plea deal under the terms presently worked out by Ramos’ office and her attorneys had the potential of leading to “tragedy,” the probation report stated.
Judge Powell ordered her to return to court on July 2 for a pre-trial.

Leave a Reply