Reporting Andrea Menniti
STOCKTON (CBS13) – The man accused of murdering his grandmother and hiding her body in a wheelbarrow at her Stockton home is facing more disturbing charges.
In addition to murder charges, 39-year-old Jerome DeAvila’s court appearance Thursday revealed he is facing additional charges of robbing and raping his grandmother.
Dressed in a red jumpsuit, DeAvila told a San Joaquin County judge he didn’t understand the long list of felony charges he is facing.
The registered sex offender is charged with robbing, raping, and killing his 76-year-old grandmother, Racheal Russell. Her son found her body wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a wheelbarrow in the backyard of her home in the 400 block of S. Golden Gate Avenue Tuesday.
“She was a very, very special woman, very special woman” son Steven Russell Sr. said.
DeAvila was released from San Joaquin County Jail a few days before he allegedly murdered his grandmother. The prosecutor says he was supposed to spend 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to not registering as a sex offender; but due to overcrowding, he was released the next day on Feb. 20.
“It’s frustrating when we negotiate sentences and they are sentenced to an amount of time and based on the overcrowding of the jail they are released without serving their sentence,” said Deputy District Attorney Sherri Adams.
Each day a San Joaquin County judge looks at a list from the county jail and decides which inmates to release because beds are full.
“My nephew should not have been out of jail. He just got out of jail last week and he’s been on parole, violation of parole,” Russell.
According to documents obtained by CBS13, DeAvila’s prior convictions include burglary, grand theft, domestic violence, assault, and child molestation.
He’s violated his parole 11 times in the last year. According to the documents, each time he has been released early. He was most recently locked up on Feb. 13, for running from parole and failing to register as a sex offender.
“He still had a violation, and they still let him out. So if the system would have been working correctly, my mother would still be alive,” said Russell. “That’s what really bothers me, is that the system is not working for us.”
How did such a violent offender got out of jail early?
“What happens here is the judge on a daily basis evaluates what type of inmates that we have and which inmates have served up to 30 to 40 percent. The judge makes a decision on who gets released and who doesn’t,” said Dep. Les Garcia, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department.
CBS13 contacted the court but was told the judge we needed to speak with was on vacation and wouldn’t comment on pending cases.
Now, Russell is on a mission to honor her memory by pushing to change the system that failed his family.
“He shouldn’t have been out and we need to stop this so this won’t happen to somebody else’s mother, grandmother, or loved one,” said Russell.
The sheriff’s department told CBS13 they are mandated by law to only have so many prisoners in the jail at one time.
DeAvila’s competency was brought into question, causing the judge to suspend the case pending an assessment in the coming weeks.