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Teen pleads guilty to felony assault

Plea deal: one year in jail for injuring boy with thrown rock

Posted: June 26, 2013 - 7:54pm  |  Updated: June 27, 2013 - 12:04am
Chaleb E. Calandra, 19, appears in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday for a change of plea hearing.   Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Chaleb E. Calandra, 19, appears in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday for a change of plea hearing.

One of the Juneau teenagers charged with felony assault for throwing a rock at a passing vehicle last summer, and striking an unsuspecting boy in the backseat, has pleaded guilty.

Chaleb E. Calandra changed his plea Wednesday in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Louis Menendez. The 19-year-old will be sentenced in late August.

A plea deal reached with prosecutors calls for Calandra to be sentenced to four years in prison with three years suspended, meaning one year to serve. Menendez will decide whether to accept the deal during the sentencing hearing.

If the plea deal is accepted, Calandra will also be required to pay restitution to the 6-year-old victim in the case and write him a letter of apology, be on probation for four years, and to receive an alcohol assessment and receive treatment if recommended.

The agreement also calls for Calandra to admit to an aggravating factor for prior conduct that would have resulted in a felony conviction if he had been charged as an adult. Since juvenile records are sealed, more information about that matter was not available.

Prosecutors charged Calandra and two other teenage boys as adults in connection to the July 15, 2012, incident, saying the victim in the backseat was severally injured when one of teens threw a rock through the back windshield of a Pontiac SUV. driving on Mendenhall Loop Road.

According to an affidavit, the boy’s cheek was lacerated, glass had to be removed from his eye, and he suffered three facial fractures and injured muscles that caused facial drooping, leaving him unable to smile properly.

The teens were apprehended at the scene — one of them still with a rock in hand, standing on a trail that leads to Loop Road — and admitted they stole some beer from a cooler in front of a house and then later threw rocks at three different vehicles, according to charging documents.

The other two teens are Jared H. Cheatham, now 18, Noel Toribio, 17. Their cases are joined, and they are slated to stand trial in Superior Court next month, although pretrial litigation might delay that timeline.

Their defense attorneys, Julie Willoughby and Kirsten Swanson, respectively, have moved to dismiss the indictments, or at least waive the cases down to the juvenile justice system where the emphasis is on rehabilitation not incarceration. Menendez has not ruled on the motions yet.

The defense attorneys argue that the state failed to prove causation to the grand jury since all the teens were throwing rocks at passing cars and since it is unknown who threw “the” rock in question.

“Mere presence at the scene is not enough,” Swanson wrote in her motion.

Calandra’s attorney Grace Lee also joined in that motion to dismiss the indictment, but it is deemed moot since her client has changed his plea. Calandra was charged with first-, second- and third-degree assault, and he pleaded guilty to the least serious of those, third-degree assault. That’s a class ‘C’ felony that has a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The plea deal Calandra entered into also resolves two other cases against him. While he was out on bail in the rock-throwing case, he was accused of altering credit card receipts to give himself a bigger tip as he worked as a delivery driver for Bullwinkle’s Pizza.

The state charged him with six felony counts of second-degree forgery, one count for each altered receipt, and one count of misdemeanor theft for stealing less than $500. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to the reduced charge of third-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, as well as the misdemeanor theft charge. The plea deal calls for him to serve a total of nine months in jail for those two offense.

That jail time is in addition to the year he is to receive for the rock-throwing case, meaning the deal proposes he serve a total of a year and nine months behind bars.

In exchange for his pleas, prosecutors agreed to dismiss another misdemeanor theft/criminal mischief case against him.

Calandra’s family watched Wednesday’s court hearing from the public gallery. His father declined to comment at this time.

Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

Editor’s Note: The Empire previously incorrectly reported in the sixth paragraph that the rock-throwing incident took place on July 15, 2011. It took place July 15, 2012. The above article has been amended to reflect the change.

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