Posted on August 8, 2011 at 1:46 PM
Monday, Aug 8 at 2:21 PM
AUSTIN, TX -- The man charged with opening fire outside the State Capitol is pleading guilty. Fausto Cardenas is now awaiting sentencing.
The alleged gunman entered his plea Monday morning at the 427th District Court in downtown Austin.
He plead guilty to carrying a weapon onto prohibited property. Now a judge will decide his sentence.
“Let the record reflect the defendant at this time has tendered to the court a written waiver of jury trial,” said Judge Jim Coronado.
Cardenas stood before Judge Coronado. He held his hands clasped behind his back. Cardenas stood alongside his lawyer and spoke with the judge through a translator.
The charge against him changed Monday morning. His lawyer and prosecutors agreed to changing the charge of making a terroristic threat to the charge of carrying a weapon onto prohibited property. Both are third degree felonies.
He faces a possible sentence up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His lawyer and prosecutors are recommending five years probation along with mental health treatment.
“Our office felt that it was important he receive an assessment and treatment for mental health issues that we believe were underlying this offense, and we felt the best good would come from that assessment, him following their recommendations and hopefully getting treatment,” said Bill Bishop.
Cardenas is accused of opening fire on the south steps of the State Capitol in January 2010. At the time, DPS troopers tackled him, handcuffed him, and took him into custody. His lawyer says he was going through personal trouble at the time, but wouldn’t go into detail.
“Anybody who would do something like that would has some sort of mental problem," said Cardenas' lawyer, Steve Orr. "I think there's a disorder of thinking. You don't think clearly. I don't think he's insane or incompetent. I don't think he's a crazy man. I just think he wasn't thinking clearly. I don't think there's going to be any problem with him. We've had two psychiatrists look at him, and I think that he's not a danger to the community based on their expert opinions.”
Orr is asking Judge Coronado to lower Cardenas’ bond so that he can post bond and stay with family awaiting his sentencing.
“There's no reason for him to stay in jail anymore. He's I think counted every cinder block in every wall in every building of Del Valle and it's time for him to go him with his family. I think he's rehabilitated himself, frankly, while sitting in jail,” said Orr.
Orr says Cardenas would stay under electronic monitoring while out on bond.
Cardenas’ family is supporting the plea agreement. They sat in the courtroom watching him enter his plea on Monday.
Cardenas is scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 8 for his official sentencing. It is possible that the judge will hand down a different sentence.