Man gets probation in mother's death

MINDEN - A 49-year-old Topaz Ranch Estates man, whose elderly mother died at their home while he was under the influence of methamphetamine, was sentenced Tuesday to probation and ordered to successfully complete drug court.

District Judge Dave Gamble warned Joseph Dean Roybal III if he fails to remain clean and sober, he will serve one year in Douglas County Jail.

"There is much riding on your sobriety. The main thing is your freedom," Gamble said. "If you don't stay clean and sober, I will put you in jail for one year."

He ordered Roybal to report Wednesday for drug court.

Roybal was arrested July 19 after deputies found the body of his mother, Jeannette Roybal-Granados, 79, on the porch of their home in Topaz Ranch Estates.

The criminal complaint for the gross misdemeanor stated that the victim, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, was too vulnerable to be left alone for more than a few minutes or hours.

Reports indicated that Roybal left her unattended from July 16-19.

Roybal's account of the last time he saw her alive varied from July 16 to July 18. He was arrested when deputies allegedly found drug paraphernalia and observed him to be under the influence of a controlled substance.

On his way to jail Roybal reportedly told deputies that he had been on a three-day methamphetamine binge.

Roybal said he didn't kill his mother. He said he left the residence July 17 and panicked when he discovered her body two days later, according to court documents.

He has since undergone substance abuse treatment and lived at a transitional residential center.

"This is a terrible case," said Tod Young, Roybal's lawyer. "There is terrible sadness with it. Joe's family has mixed emotions. Some are very upset over his neglect. He is, too. The very first time I met him, he was sobbing over the loss of his mother."

Young said his client had maintained his sobriety and he was back at work for the Douglas County School District as a custodian.

Michelle Roybal testified that she loved her brother, but hated what he had done.

"He's really hurt us," she said. "Because of his drug habits, my mom is dead. I love him to death, but I hate his guts for what he's done.

"You need to feel the impact of what your drugs did to the family. I hope my mom and dad can be there for you in spirit," she said.

Roybal's cousin, Kelly Arritt, spoke on behalf of her mother, the victim's sister.

"Nobody doubts Joe's remorse. He's been remorseful before. A slap on the wrist won't work," she said.

Arritt said if it were up to her mother, dismissed charges against Roybal would be reinstated and he would pay the most severe penalties.

"This has been a horrible thing that happened to our family," Roybal said. "I am a big part of it. I loved my mom very much."

He denied allegations that he fired caregivers who helped him with his mother.

Gamble allowed Roybal to participate in drug court but entered a judgment of conviction in the offense rather than diverting sentencing.

"That would be an inappropriate result," Gamble said. "I want to add what I can add to the impetus you have to complete drug court and maintain sobriety."

Gamble suspended a one-year sentence in Douglas County Jail and placed Roybal on three years probation.

He must successfully complete drug court and abstain from drugs and alcohol. He also must continue counseling for mental health and drug abuse.

Roybal is subject to search and seizure for drugs and alcohol.


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