REDWOOD CITY -- A South San Francisco woman pleaded no contest Tuesday to burglarizing an elderly Daly City woman's home after she was advised prison would be taken off the table if she admitted to her part in the beating that left the victim blind.
Joann Rivera Ortiz, 49, made that admission about her role in the Jan. 12, 2008, beating of her boyfriend's 78-year-old landlord after the court indicated it would offer her a more lenient sentence for doing so, District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
While her boyfriend and accomplice Jose De Jesus Perez Gonzalez was sentenced in March 2011 to 11 years and eight months in prison for the crime, the court indicated Tuesday that Ortiz will likely spend only six months in county jail.
"This was a dramatic departure from the previous discussions," said Guidotti, who noted that for the past two years the offer had stood at a four-year state prison term. "It appears the judge didn't consider the case to be as serious as we did, or the previous judges did."
Added Guidotti: "But this is a serious felony that she pleaded to. If he ultimately decides it is worth more, she cannot withdraw her plea."
Ortiz reportedly called the woman and asked if she'd be home at 3 p.m. to accept a package, Guidotti said. The victim was suspicious of the call and called her children, who told her not to answer the door if anyone knocked.
Gonzalez then arrived about 3 p.m. and entered the home without knocking, Guidotti said. When he discovered the woman was home, Gonzalez brutally beat her with a crowbar and injured her so severely that she lost her eyesight and almost died.
Police were able to trace the call that morning to Ortiz's work cellphone from an auto body shop, a phone authorities had also tied to the December 2012 burglary of an elderly Pacifica woman for whom Ortiz was a caretaker, Guidotti said. Ortiz was additionally charged with two counts of residential burglary for that case.
Peter Goldscheider, Ortiz's attorney, maintained that Ortiz was consistently "used" by Rodriguez as a pawn in his robbery schemes and that she did not know the man's landlord, nor why she was calling her, on the day of the brutal beating.
"She was a very naive person; everyone seems to agree with that," Goldscheider said. "But there was never any evidence she even knew what she was doing. She didn't ask what they were doing calling the woman, and that was her downfall."
Gonzalez was convicted on charges of attempted murder, two counts of residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, possession of stolen property and mayhem. Ortiz remains out of custody on a $50,000 bail bond and will return to court March 28 to receive her sentence.
Follow Erin Ivie at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.