El Centro City Councilman Jason Jackson says he's being stalked
A court hearing involving a Heber woman charged with stalking El Centro City Councilman Jason Jackson and vandalizing his vehicle was continued until next week.
Irenda Rios, 32, who is free after having posted bail, appeared sullen while her defense attorney Lance Korten explained to Imperial County Superior Court Judge Raymundo Cota that the Feb. 3 hearing will look into how both sides can “effect some of the goals” about the case.
But Korten and Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Jodi Miller declined to specify what those “goals” were as the case is ongoing and is in its preliminary stages.
The brief courtroom hearing took an unexpected turn when Rios, who faces a charge of felony stalking and misdemeanor vandalism, abruptly walked out of the courtroom after Miller’s request that a restraining order against Rios remain in place was granted by Cota. Rios returned to the courtroom moments later.
Cota ordered Rios to stay 100 yards from Jackson, his home and his place of employment, and to not have any contact with Jackson. Cota told Korten how “displeased” he was with Rios’ courtroom conduct.
Miller declined to give out too many details about the case, but the criminal complaint alleges Rios stalked Jackson on April 8 and that an arrest warrant was issued against her. Neither Miller nor Korten could recall when Rios had been arrested but the court file showed that she posted bail.
Jackson confirmed that he’d had a “short-term” relationship with Rios that he ended. Noting how certain elements in the El Centro community would seize the opportunity to fault him, Jackson said he was victimized.
“It’s been a nightmare. It’s been going on a long time,” said Jackson, who claimed his car had been keyed when he was having dinner with an associate at Chili’s Restaurant in El Centro.
“Nobody deserves to have their property and their private lives ,” Jackson continued. “It’s the most horrible thing to have.”
While he had been appointed to represent Rios midway through the case, Korten defended his client, saying that there was never any threat, nor any instance of physical violence “from her to him.”
Korten stressed that Rios is being charged with only one count of felony stalking and that she “categorically” denies the allegation that she vandalized Jackson’s vehicle.
“I harbor doubts that the facts in evidence in this case will meet the elements of the crime that my client is charged with,” Korten said. “The case is ongoing and much has to be done.”
Separately, defense attorney Steve Honse represents Rios in her request for a restraining order against Jackson.
Honse, however, was careful in pointing out that Rios’ request does not imply that there is a finding of wrongdoing on Jackson’s part and that he hasn’t had a chance to respond to Rios’ request for the restraining order.
But Honse said he is pursuing Rios’ restraining order matter as a pro bono matter after learning more about the nature of the allegations through a referral he received by the Center for Family Solutions.
Honse was not Rios’ attorney at the time she filed her request for the restraining order that contained a four- or five-page account of a single alleged incident involving Jackson.
Honse declined to discuss what the allegation was.
Staff Writer Silvio J. Panta can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org