Courts & Crime

Woman charged with felony for scratching cop's car

A judge on Tuesday scolded prosecutors for not turning over evidence that could support a Fresno city fire inspector's claim that she was singled out for prosecution.

"I've been given the bird by the District Attorney's Office for the last 36 days," Judge D. Tyler Tharpe said in Fresno County Superior Court.

Tharpe made his comments in the criminal case of Shandra Rodems, who was charged with felony vandalism last summer after police said she used a key to scratch a pickup co-owned by herself and her estranged husband.

In December, Tharpe ordered the District Attorney's Office and the Fresno Police Department to turn over evidence that could support Rodems' claim that she is being singled out for prosecution because her estranged husband, Kennan Rodems, is a Fresno police officer.

While the Fresno Police Department has complied with the judge's order, the District Attorney's Office has ignored the judge's order, said attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt, who represents Rodems.

Tharpe's order compels prosecutors to turn over any reports, documents and e-mails related to the Rodems case. But the sticky issue is about 300 vandalism cases that prosecutors have declined to reveal to Hammerschmidt, and so far to Tharpe.

Hammerschmidt said those cases will prove that no one has been prosecuted as harshly as Rodems in similar circumstances. He challenged prosecutor Dennis Cooper to show one case similar to Rodems' in which a felony has been charged.

On Tuesday, Cooper admitted that prosecutors hadn't complied with the judge's order because it would take months to determine whether Hammerschmidt's contention is true -- and that would take resources away from other cases, Cooper told the judge.

"I hope you don't think we are thumbing our nose at the court," Cooper said.

But Tharpe said that's exactly how he feels.

The judge scheduled a hearing on Feb. 4 to see whether the District Attorney's Office was making progress in turning over evidence that could support Rodems' claim. If prosecutors fail to comply, Tharpe said he would consider sanctioning prosecutors and dismissing the case against Rodems.

Read the full story at the Fresno Bee.