Criminal Case Update: Sentences levied for felony DUI, resisting an officer and other crimes
By David Hollister
Plumas County District Attorney
Thank you all for your support and efforts in making Plumas County a safe and just place to live, work and play. I am especially grateful for the tremendous efforts of those throughout our community who continue to work so hard and made so many sacrifices to keep Plumas County safe.
The DA’s Office receives approximately 1,000 cases a year from the Sheriff’s Office, CHP Quincy, CHP Susanville, Fish and Wildlife and other law enforcement agencies to review and, potentially, prosecute. Of these cases, we file some form of criminal charge in about 800 cases.
Statistically, this caseload warrants five prosecutors. In Plumas County we are funded for three prosecutors and are able to meet our obligations effectively at this staffing level – as demonstrated by a consistently high conviction rate and no conviction being reversed on appeal in the last 12 years.
This year the DA’s office has operated for most of the year with one prosecutor. Staffing shortages in DAs’ offices are a statewide problem but are particularly acute in Plumas County due to our already small staff and hiring challenges stemming from our need to recruit from out of the area, location, compensation, housing prices and availability as well as the stigma from recent wildfires. While operating with one prosecutor is not sustainable, we have been able to meet ongoing demands without having to alter court calendars, reject cases or otherwise take action which could harm the level of safety Plumas County deserves. Sustaining at this level would not be possible without the tremendous work of the DA staff, our law enforcement and criminal justice partners and the support of our citizens.
In addition, I am exceptionally grateful for our friends in the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office who loan us a young prosecutor for a few days a month when our trial schedule requires a Plumas County prosecutor to be in two courts at once. These young prosecutors have done an excellent job receiving convictions at jury trial in two difficult cases. Both have thoroughly enjoyed their work in our DA’s office and stay in Plumas County and will, hopefully, spread the word about what an exceptional place Plumas County is to live and work.
In a bit of great news, and with some hard work and luck (not to mention a spectacular, smoke-free Plumas County summer), it appears we might be in a position to welcome two exceptionally talented attorneys to the DA’s office in January 2023.
While Plumas County remains a relatively safe place, we have seen some examples of illegal and unacceptable violence, particularly against our law enforcement officers. In addition, we have recent cases pending which include a defendant trying to bring an 8” ice pick into the courthouse, a number of significant domestic violence cases and a home invasion robbery.
Below, please find a sampling of results in some recent cases of public interest.
People v. Chance Ohle (F22-00214)
Chance Wade Duncan Ohle, age 29 of Portola, was convicted on May 20, 2022, of two counts of felony possession of stolen property. Ohle was found to have sold stolen firearms to a local resident and, when Ohle’s residence was searched, to be in possession of a large amount of items which had been stolen in Portola including clothing, bedding, sunglasses and memorabilia. On July 29, 2022, Ohle was sentenced to sixteen months in county jail and ordered pay restitution as well as fines and fees.
People v. William Barnard (F21-00440)
William Albert Barnard, age 23 of Reno, Nevada, was convicted of felony driving under the influence and causing injury on April 1, 2022. Barnard was arrested on July 25, 2021 following an incident where he was driving back to Reno following a family reunion in Graeagle. During the evening Barnard had consumed alcohol (to an extent his blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit) and smoked marijuana. While driving home Barnard fell asleep, allowing his vehicle to cross over the double yellow lines on SR 70 between Portola and Vinton. In doing so, Barnard’s vehicle crashed head on into the victims’ vehicle. The victims’ vehicle had five people in it who had flown to Plumas County from the east coast for a wedding and family reunion. Each of the victims suffered significant injuries. In mitigation, Barnard had a relatively minimal criminal record, was young in age and remorseful for his actions. On July 8, 2022, Barnard was sentenced to two years in state prison.
People v. Joel Walker (F22-00209)
Joel Walker, age 35 of Portola, was convicted on May 20, 2022 of felony recklessly starting a fire and admitted he had previously suffered a “strike” prior conviction. Walker was arrested on May 3, 2022 while living in transitional housing on Main St. in Portola and became mad when he was required to leave. In response to having to leave, Walker set the couch in the residence on fire causing extensive damage. On July 8, 2022, Walker was sentenced to six years in state prison.
People v. Jason Counts (F22-00189)
Jason John Counts, age 51 of Chester, was convicted of felony resisting an executive officer and admitted he had previously suffered a “strike” prior conviction. Counts was arrested on April 18, 2022 following an incident where a Sheriff’s Sgt. contacted Counts while Counts was stopped on the side of the road in Chester. During the contact the Sgt. noticed objective symptoms of drug use leading the Sgt. to believe Counts might be under the influence of a controlled substance. When the Sgt. began to search Counts, Counts ran into the woods. Once caught, Counts resisted arrest by trying to fight with the Sgt. Eventually, Counts was taken into custody and found to have methamphetamine in his possession. On July 1, 2022, Counts was sentenced to four years in state prison.
People v. Christopher Cortina (F22-00169)
Christopher James Cortina, age 36 of Portola, was convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm on May 20, 2022. Cortina had been arrested on April 5, 2022 following the execution of search warrant on Cortina’s Grizzly Road residence in Portola. During the search, Plumas County law enforcement recovered an AR-15 rifle, methamphetamine, cocaine, and a large amount of unprescribed medications. On June 17, 2022, Cortina was sentenced to four years in state prison.
People v. David Castrejon (F21-00567)
David Jeremiah Castrejon, age 22 of Sacramento, was convicted of felony resisting an executive officer on June 10, 2022. Castrejon was arrested on October 1, 2021 following an incident where Castrejon had an anxiety attack after ingesting acid while visiting the Greenville area. When deputies arrived Castrejon ran. A foot chase ensued in a dark, wooded area. During the pursuit, Castrejon quickly stopped, spun around and struck the deputy in the face, causing the deputy to suffer an orbital fracture. Castrejon was quickly apprehended and taken into custody after the assault. In mitigation, Castrejon was young in age, and had no criminal record. On July 22, 2022, Castrejon was sentenced to two years of formal probation and ordered to serve 180 days in county jail. Additionally, restitution was reserved and Castrejon was ordered not to consume any illegal substances and be subject to search and testing requirements to ensure compliance.
Thank you, again for your support and efforts. Should you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me at the DA’s Office.