A prison term of at least 45 years was the agreed to sentence for David Machado, convicted in the death of Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace more than five years ago.
In Stanislaus County Superior Court action on March 4, Machado’s defense attorney withdrew an insanity plea in connection with the case.
A jury previously convicted Machado of all charges alleged during the guilt phase of the trial but could not come to a unanimous vote as to whether he was insane when he shot the deputy during a Nov. 16, 2016 contact at the Fox Grove Fishing Access, located in Hughson.
“During the insanity phase, the jury found him sane on the two carjackings (one of which alleged the use of a firearm) and attempted carjacking charges but hung on whether Machado was sane or not in the commission of the Wallace murder and felon in possession of a firearm counts,” District Attorney’s office spokesman John Goold stated following the plea on Friday. “There were talks between the parties whether or not the case should be resolved. Discussions were held with the victim’s family on possible resolutions and they are in agreement with what happened today.”
The carjacking incidents occurred, officials said, as Machado attempted to flee the scene in Hughson following the shooting in 2016.
The Friday morning hearing – which was to be a pretrial hearing after a mistrial was declared on the hung jury in the prior sanity phase – was before Judge Ricardo Cordova, as the original trial judge, Thomas Zeff, recently retired, said officials. The defense dropped pursuing an insanity plea by withdrawing the defendant’s not guilty by reason of insanity plea on the two remaining counts; the counts where the jury hung on sane vs insane.
In return, the prosecution struck the existing gun enhancement (25 years to life) in exchange for the defendant’s admission to a 20 year gun enhancement. The District Attorney’s office and the defense then agreed to a maximum prison sentence of 45 years to life.
According to the District Attorney’s office statement, Machado also admitted that he knew Dennis Wallace was a peace officer in the performance of his duties at the time of the murder and will be sentenced to 45 years to life. Goold said this removes the possibility of Machado being eligible for elder parole down the road, “at least under current law.”
Deputy Wallace’s brother, Dave, who lived for many years in Escalon, attended the hearing. He has hosted several area fundraisers through the DW61 Foundation in honor of his brother; with money raised primarily benefiting programs and services for children and teens throughout the Central Valley.
The sentencing and victim impact statements are scheduled for May 2 at 1:30 p.m.