Sister of prolific Seattle offender: Judge ‘absolutely correct’ to put him in jail
Francisco Calderon is a repeat offender with a rap sheet spanning 40-plus years with more than 70 convictions.
At the beginning of the year, Calderon pleaded guilty after assaulting a stranger. The prosecuting attorney recommended a plea deal of 30 days in jail and a treatment program.
The case sparked controversy when Judge Ed McKenna ignored the prosecutor’s recommendation and sentenced Calderon to one year in jail, the maximum sentence.
“At some point, I think the public needs to be protected,” McKenna said while issuing his sentence. “The question I have is at what point does the city decide to protect the public? Given someone’s history such as Mr. Calderon’s, isn’t it likely he’s going to commit another offense, and most likely another serious offense?”
That ruling made waves. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and the King County’s director of public defense, Anita Khandelwal, called for Judge McKenna to step down as presiding judge. McKenna refused.
Calderon was released last week after serving just eight months of his 12-month sentence. Just two days later, he was arrested again — after he randomly threw coffee on a toddler.
Francisco R. Calderon in a 2018 Department of Corrections photo. (KIRO 7 / Dept. of Corrections)
According to Calderon’s sister, Anna Calderon Barnett, the toddler attack was an inevitable outcome.
“The approach they were hoping to use just doesn’t seem right to me,” she told KIRO Radio. “My brother is severely mentally ill, and while he does use drugs and has a history of drug use, that’s not the core of the problem. The core of the problem is that he is mentally ill.”
Barnett emphasized that Judge McKenna was “absolutely correct” to pursue the maximum sentence, and that Calderon “deserves better than what he’s getting” from the City Attorney’s Office.
Before McKenna sentenced Calderon to a year in jail, Barnett told the prosecuting attorney that her brother needed long-term care, not simply to be released back out onto the streets. In fact, she believes her brother intends to continue re-offending.
“To me, it’s almost like … he knows he’s not capable of taking care of himself, and he knows that he doesn’t have the mental capacity to fit in, and he just attacks people or he’ll commit some kind of a crime, because he knows the next step is ‘I’ll be taken off the street,'” she described. “His last words to me from prison were ‘I don’t want to go back out there — I don’t know how to live,’ and he’s right. I think this is what’s being overlooked.”
After Calderon’s latest arrest for throwing coffee on a toddler, Barnett now fears that the city is considering offering bail.
The prosecutor’s office responded to that claim with the following statement:
Calderon will not be on the King County Jail first appearance today [Tuesday] as the case has been sent to Municipal Court. Our understanding is he will be on their calendar tomorrow [Wednesday] morning. They should be able to provide you with more information tomorrow [Wednesday].
In a subsequent statement issued Wednesday morning, the King County Prosecutor’s Office explained why it would be charging Calderon with a misdemeanor for his latest offense, rather than a felony.
In evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence to support a felony charge, we are ethically bound to apply the facts of a particular case to the law as established by the legislature. This is regardless of the history of a particular defendant or the outrageousness of the conduct.
In order to elevate an assault against a child from a gross misdemeanor to a felony, there must be some level of bodily harm to the victim.
Throwing coffee on a child is horrible and abusive behavior. Due to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) patrol’s response we were able to answer the questions we needed to determine the appropriate charges in this case. We learned from the police report that the child, thankfully, did not appear to have been injured in any way and we were told that the child received no medical treatment. In other words, the facts of this particular case didn’t support this being a felony.
Calderon is currently being held on $50,000 bail, and if found guilty, faces almost a year in jail. Prosecutors have said they won’t factor in past criminal history when deciding charges.
Judge McKenna declined to comment on the case.