By CHANSE WATSON
WALLACE — In Wednesday’s Law Day at the Wallace Courthouse, Judge Scott Wayman addressed the criminal cases of roughly 20 individuals. The majority of cases brought before the judge involved drug- and property-related crimes.
Arguably, the most prominent of the cases on Jan. 9 was the arraignment and sentencing of 59-year-old Jorge Gonzalez-Vergel, who accepted a three-year fixed prison sentence for a felony unlawful possession of a weapon charge and felony trafficking methamphetamine charge.
Gonzalez-Vergel was initially arrested on Dec. 11 when Idaho State Police Sgt. Justin Klitch observed a Dodge van commit a traffic infraction on eastbound I-90 around milepost 46 near Pinehurst.
The Sgt. Klitch conducted a traffic stop and observed four individuals in the vehicle including Gonzalez-Vergel (the driver), 32-year-old Jessica L. Neiss of Redmond, Wash., and two juveniles (ages 2 and 1). It was later revealed that Neiss is Gonzalez-Vergel’s ex-wife/girlfriend and the 2-year-old male is his biological son. Neiss was also confirmed to be the biological mother of both children.
During the stop, Klitch noticed signs of physical trauma on the adult female’s face and signs of multiple injuries on the 2-year-old. A closer look inside the vehicle revealed methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a firearm as well.
Gonzalez-Vergel was immediately detained and the remaining occupants were taken to Shoshone Medical Center in Kellogg by personnel from Shoshone County Fire District No. 2.
The 2-year-old was later transported to Sacred Heart Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Spokane with life-threatening injuries, including brain trauma. The child showed numerous visible marks and scars, indicating severe abuse.
Doctors told ISP that Klitch should be credited with saving the child’s life.
Upon further investigation after the arrest, law enforcement ruled Gonzalez-Vergel out as the person who inflicted the injuries to the woman and children. In fact, it was discovered that Gonzalez-Vergel was actually attempting to “rescue” them from the actual abuser (believed to be the man who was Neiss’ partner at the time) in Redmond after Neiss called asking for help.
While in custody, the defendant admitted to detectives that he planned to use the firearm he was caught with to kill the abuser at a later time.
Before laying out the previously agreed upon sentence of three years fixed at Law Day, Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Keisha Oxendine recounted Gonzalez-Vergel’s actions (and inactions).
“Another male from Washington is believed to have caused the injury to the defendant’s minor child, not the defendant himself,” she said. “The defendant was in possession of a firearm, which he later admitted to law enforcement that he had obtained in an effort to kill the man responsible for the injuries to his son.”
“The defendant had not taken any action to seek medical attention for the injuries to his son and luckily law enforcement made this traffic stop in Shoshone County, which ultimately likely saved his son’s life,” she added.
The decision to offer Gonzalez-Vergel a deal of three years fixed in prison was influenced by both his other pending charges and his cooperation with the investigation.
Gonzalez-Vergel’s criminal history includes two prior felony convictions in 1990 out of Minnesota, an outstanding controlled substance charge out of North Dakota, and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement violation.
Defense attorney Michael Blaine Horrocks then spoke briefly of his client’s character.
“Mr. Gonzalez-Vergel is a good person and cares about his child very much,” he said. “He was on the way back after having rescued his child and his ex-wife or girlfriend when she called and said that both she and the child had been beat up.”
Stressing that Gonzalez-Vergel had taken responsibility for his actions and worked with law enforcement, Horrocks agreed that the three-year fixed prison sentence was reasonable.
“We think it is a well thought out sentence.”
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Wayamn allowed the defendant the chance to speak.
Gonzalez-Vergel, a native Spanish speaker, spoke for slightly less than a minute in broken English; much of which was difficult to understand. What was intelligible though was his final sentence to the court — “If I would have seen the guy that did that, I would have blown his head off. That’s all I got to say.”
In addition to the three-year sentence, Gonzalez-Vergel faces prison time for his outstanding charges in North Dakota and even deportation by ICE for his immigration violation.
The man suspected of inflicting the injuries on Neiss and the 2-year-old, 29-year-old Gordon D. Adolph of Seattle, was recently in-custody in King County, Wash., for charges unrelated — but has since been released.
In an affidavit from the Redmond Police Department to the King County Court requesting a search warrant for his property, RPD Detective Tay Jones states that based on the investigation, there is “probable cause that Gordon D. Adolph committed crimes of assault of a child in the first degree and assault in the fourth degree.”
Adolph is a three-time convicted felon; one of the convictions being for assault in the third degree.
If and when evidence linking Adolph to the crimes is found, RPD will put out a warrant for his arrest.
As for the injured 2-year-old, ISP shared on their Twitter page that “Baby J” was released from the ICU on Dec. 14. Though there is still a lot of healing to go, he was in good spirits on Dec. 20 when troopers visited him.
“Last night Sgt Klitch & Troopers Walker & Lerenas visited Baby J,” the tweet read. “He was smiling and happy and TALKING!!! He brought the boys to tears. Still a ways to go, but the staff at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital is making this miracle happen.”
The 1-year-old also involved in the case is healthy and currently in the care of the state of Idaho. RPD believes that Adolph is the biological father of the 1-year-old.
ISP states that North Idaho Court Appointed Special Advocates is accepting donations via their website and will accept gift cards via mail or dropped at the CASA office. Donations will go toward taking care of the children and finding them both safe places to live.