Lisa Alarcon pleaded "no contest" to two counts of attempted murder on Friday afternoon. Alarcon was accused of shooting her parents through their bedroom window in August 2012. A first trial ended in a hung jury last October, and starting Monday, she would've dragged her family through the same stresses and painful memories all over again. Friday, she chose to protect the people she almost killed.
Lisa Alarcon drove to her parents' neighborhood, walked up to their window and started shooting. A neighbor said he saw her do it and physical evidence backed up much of his story.
But at trial last year, defense attorney Scott Baly argued the street was dark and the neighbor misidentified the shooter. It was enough uncertainty to convince two jurors to vote "not guilty" and the judge declared a mistrial. Alarcon was about to face the same charges on Monday, and a conviction could've meant a life sentence and at least 32 years until her first parole hearing.
"And when it's 'to life', you don't know for sure if you're getting out," Baly said. "At least with a 20-year range, she has a date. She knows she'll get to go home."
Twenty years is the deal Alarcon took late Friday, only after initially rejecting the offer. Prosecutors had floated even less time before settling on the 20-year sentence for second degree attempted murder on both her mother and father.
We're not identifying the victims because of safety risks expressed in court. They were shocked when investigators told them their daughter was the person who shot them. And they cried when they saw her again for the first time a few months later. Both parents had to testify in the first trial, and were preparing to do the same next week. Her attorney says that's part of her motivation to take a plea deal.
"These people are her mother and father and she's considering her mother and her father and everybody in her family," Baly said. "She is."
Alarcon will be sentenced in June, but there's no discretion. The 26-year-old will get a 20-year prison sentence. Assuming she behaves, she'll be 41 years old when she gets out.