The passenger and girlfriend of Rogelio Maravilla changed her plea Monday as she awaits her sentencing in May.
Fernanda Lopez was in court with her attorney present changed her plea from ‘not guilty’ to ‘no contest.’
Investigators said Lopez was a passenger in the truck that her boyfriend Maravilla was driving when he hit and killed Clovis Unified Vice Principal Gavin Gladding while he was jogging in Northeast Fresno last year.
“A plea of no contest is not a plea of not guilty its an admission of involvement in the crime, it’s simply a mechanism that we have out there for somebody in a situation just like this, where for reason that we may not know they’ve decided I don’t want to take this case to trial because I might be found guilty,” Legal Analyst David Mugridge said.
Mugridge said the change in plea does protect Lopez in the event the Gladding family decided if they want to sue her for civil damages.
According to the Fresno County District Attorney Office, the judge granted to sentence Lopez in May so she can finish her semester at Fresno State.
Mugridge said it will depend on the judge to see if she’ll spend time behind bar or just be ordered to be on probation.
“That’s really going to depend on the work up that her defense attorney presents to the court, a record of character, letters of support from her family and friends, something to convince the court that she really should not only do time in prison but she shouldn’t do any custody at all,” he said.
Two other defendants, Moises Valdez-Guerreo pled no contest for being an accessory to the case earlier this month.
Valdez-Guerreo was ordered to be on probation.
Maravilla entered a no contest plea in November to high and run resulting in permanent injury or death and was sentenced to three years in state prison.