The sentencing of Philemon J. Shark, 40, followed a legal ruling by San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren in which she found Shark's previous conviction for burglary in Washington was not a serious or violent felony in California. That meant that Shark's prior "does not constitute a strike," ruled Halgren, which resulted in a lower sentence.
Deputy District Attorney Trisha Amador said the 8:40 a.m. incident on Dec. 23, 2018 was shocking in that it occurred "in broad daylight" as the 24-year-old woman was walking near Tangiers Court and Mission Boulevard when she was attacked from behind.
"He pushed her to the ground and his intent was clear. He was pulling off her pants," said Amador, who added the victim "is still suffering to this day."
"If not for the Good Samaritans, what would have happened?" said Amador to the judge. "This has seriously impacted her."
The Good Samaritans were people who heard the woman's screams, and forced Shark off her, said the prosecutor. He then fled, but was arrested 45 minutes later by police. Amador said officers had blocked off areas of Mission Beach in order to find him. He was found hiding in a breezeway and was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flip flops.
Amador said she was going to ask for a 17-year term had Halgren found the burglary prior was a serious or violent felony in California. Shark pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit oral copulation, and faced a maximum six-year term if the prior was not considered a strike. The plea agreement also allowed Shark's attorney to argue the previous offense was not a strike.
Halgren ordered Shark to register as a sex offender in whatever community he resides after he is paroled. She also barred him from contacting the victim for 10 years. She fined him $370, and gave him credit for 272 days already spent in jail.
His attorney, Michael Hernandez, said he had no previous sexual misconduct. He pleaded guilty without having the victim testify in court, which Hernandez said was "important to admit guilt at an early stage."
"Mr. Shark is a good human being. This is out of his character," said Hernandez, who attributed it to "a lapse in judgement."
"I'm really sorry. It's really out of my character," said Shark, wearing jail clothes. "I drank earlier in the day."
Hernandez sought a two-year term. Shark's mother was in the courtroom audience after flying here from Washington. Shark had lived in Seattle most of his life and had moved to San Diego for only a few months before he was arrested. One issue involving the Washington burglary was whether the dwelling was considered to be inhabited at the time.