Trans woman pleads
guilty in burglary case
by Seth Hemmelgarn
A transgender San Francisco woman is expected to serve almost 10 years in prison after pleading guilty last week in a November 2011 home burglary case.
Felipe Valdez-Tejera, 51, was on parole when she entered the home of a sleeping Russian Hill couple, whose baby was about 3 months old and also in the residence.
She had previously pleaded not guilty in June and denied all allegations.
However, at her Thursday, September 6 appearance in San Francisco Superior Court before Judge Jim Collins, Valdez-Tejera pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first-degree residential burglary, and admitted to an allegation of prior convictions.
Deputy Public Defender Sangeeta Sinha had been trying to get Valdez-Tejera into a treatment program, saying that her client, who's originally from Cuba, had experienced years of physical abuse and drug addiction.
Valdez-Tejera's previous crimes include three felony convictions for first-degree burglary. Most recently, in 2005, she was sentenced to eight years in state prison. Under California's three strikes law, she could have already been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. The new plea means another strike.
"Neither I nor Felipe is naive enough to believe she wouldn't have a state prison sentence suspended over her head as an incentive to comply with probation, and as punishment if she did not," Sinha said in a June interview.
After Valdez-Tejera's appearance Thursday, Sinha said her client pleaded guilty because "ultimately, she felt this was in her best interest. At this point, it appeared the case was not going to be resolved for the treatment she wanted." However, she said, Valdez-Tejera still planned to go to treatment upon release.
The expected sentence is 80 percent of 12 years, or almost 10 years.
Sinha said Valdez-Tejera is "disappointed, but she's remaining hopeful" that she'll "be able to get the help that she needs."
According to the police report, an officer responded to the burglary in this most recent case at about 3 a.m. November 17.
The 32-year-old victim reported that he was awakened by his wife's scream, saw Valdez-Tejera, and chased her out of the house, which is in the 1400 block of Green Street. When he got outside, she had a brown shoulder bag that held two laptops, according to the police report. She and the victim eventually ran toward responding police and Valdez-Tejera was soon taken into custody.
Valdez-Tejera's sentencing is set for October 1.