Outraged citizens call for Orange County judge's resignation after controversial decision

Thursday, April 9, 2015
Petitions call for Orange County judge's resignation amid controversial sentencing
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Outraged citizens are calling for an Orange County judge's resignation after he reduced the sentence of a Santa Ana man convicted of sodomizing a toddler. (Photo copyright 2015 Daily Journal Corp. Reprinted and/or posted with permission.)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- After an Orange County Superior Court judge made a controversial decision to shorten the minimum sentence of a Santa Ana man convicted of sodomizing a toddler, outraged citizens called for the judge's resignation.

Support continues to grow on several Facebook pages and on a Change.org petition, which is calling for Judge M. Marc Kelly to step down.

Kelly reduced the sentence for 20-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto by 15 years during a sentencing hearing Friday.

In December, Rojano-Nieto was convicted of sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl he is related to.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said his office plans to repeal the decision.

"He's a grown man. He knowingly, reprehensibly committed this terrible crime and should pay the price," he said.

Kelly called the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life "cruel and unusual," and decided to reduce Rojano-Nieto's prison time to only 10 years. Kelly also said the minimum sentence was "unconstitutional" because the man did not "stalk or seek out the victim."

Rojano-Nieto's attorney, Erfan Puthawala, spoke to Eyewitness News on the phone.

"On the spectrum of sexually violent crimes, this is something that is barely benign," he said.

Rackauckas said Rojano-Nieto forcibly sodomized the toddler, even covering her mouth to prevent her from calling out to her mother.

Puthawala said his client admitted to the crime, but should not face a harsher sentence because he grew up in a broken home where he was abused.

"Incarceration is not the answer. What he needs is some sort of therapy," he said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Kelly and the Orange County Superior Court, but both declined to comment.