The sister of slain Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Solano blasted newly proposed justice reform measures that would soften the prison sentencing for her brother’s alleged killer.
“I can’t even think the thought of this happening,” Christina Solano told “America’s Newsroom.” “If they do that, then his sentencing goes to 15 to 20 years. It’s awful. I can’t sleep. My brother doesn’t deserve this. This man needs to be in jail for life.”
Joseph Solano was shot while off-duty on June 10, dying of his injuries two days later. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon wants to drop “special circumstance” allegations against the man arrested for killing him, which mean he could one day walk free.
Rhett Nelson, 31, of Utah, is accused of shooting Solano in the back of the head at a Jack in the Box fast food outlet in Alhambra in June 2019. The 50-year-old Solano died two days later. Prosecutors said Nelson also killed Dmitry Koltsov, a professional skateboarder from Russia, earlier that day.
Gascon unveiled an agenda Monday that will usher in sweeping changes to the local criminal justice system, notably dropping the death penalty and not prosecuting certain crimes.
Gascon, a former San Francisco district attorney and former Los Angeles police officer, announced that many misdemeanor cases will be dismissed, saying that nearly half of those incarcerated on pre-trial misdemeanor offenses suffer from mental illness.
“Los Angeles County courts should not be revolving doors for those in need of treatment and services,” one directive said.
As of Tuesday, many misdemeanor cases will be declined or dismissed prior to arraignment unless “factors for considerations” exist. The list of offenses includes trespassing, disturbing the peace, a minor in possession of alcohol, driving without a license, driving with a suspended license, making criminal threats, drug and paraphernalia possession, being under the influence of a controlled substance, public intoxication, loitering to commit prostitution and resisting arrest.
In addition, prosecutors will not seek the death penalty and those accused of misdemeanors and low-level felonies will be referred to community-based programs.
For juveniles, those accused of misdemeanors will no longer be prosecuted.
Solano worries that offenders who are not sentenced to life for murder will repeat the same crime after being released. Solano said families who have had similar experiences will “suffer” as well.
“My brother was an innocent person standing in a Jack-In-The-Box waiting for a drink and [a] man comes up and shoots him. Then this guy gets out in 15, 20 years? I don’t get it. I don’t get it,” Solano said.
“What is the purpose of this? He should be for us, for the people out there, for the protection of the people. If they let these guys out, who knows if they’ll kill somebody else again? … It’s an outrage.”