Andrea Rivera listens Wednesday in First Judicial District Court as her attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies discusses the terms of her plea agreement. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The aunt of a Los Alamos man who sustained life-threatening injuries in a November stabbing incident at a Canyon Road apartment emotionally spoke in First Judicial District Court Wednesday prior to the sentencing of his attacker.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Andrea Rivera, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery with a kitchen knife. The charges stem from a Nov. 3 incident at an apartment on Canyon Road in which Rivera is accused of using a kitchen knife to stab Cory Kerschner several times in the chest area and cause a large laceration to his stomach and cutting the thumb of her sister, Sara Cooper with a kitchen knife.
Assistant District Attorney Larissa Breen told the Court that Rivera had other felony convictions and one other felony arrest which was dismissed.
“The family has been enduring her behavior for a very long time and they are here today to support her and want her to do well but are also very wary of what will happen if her condition is not very carefully monitored. They want to give her the benefit of receiving treatment and want her to live as normal a life as possible, however they have seen what can happen when the treatment program is not followed and things go awry,” Breen said. “They are hopeful but cautious moving and specifically want the Court to know that they do not intend to be relied upon to support her so she will have to find her own place to live, find her own way of getting around and make her own arrangements for how she is going to comply with her treatment program.”
Christina Kerschner, the aunt of Cory Kerschner, said Cory still hasn’t recovered. She said he is 6 ft. 2 inches and had gone down to 138 lbs., eventually gaining back 10 to 15 lbs. She said he can’t work and he can’t support himself and now has $250,000 in medical debt from his injuries that he can’t pay.
“I just want everyone in here to understand that, no, he didn’t die, but I was in the room when they lost his heartbeat and it looked like they weren’t going to be able to bring him back. It was the worst moment of my life and I don’t want anyone else to go through that. Even though none of the things (Rivera) has done has gone on as a felony, they should have. She attacked her own mother with a scissors, she attacked a police officer,” Kerschner said. “This has been escalating for years. Her own family has been asking the courts to do something. So I can’t walk out of here today letting, ‘I’m going to make it better’ be the last words. It’s highly unlikely at this point that Cory’s life is going to get better. It’s highly likely that if this doesn’t work, that the next person is probably going to be dead. I just want everyone to understand that.”
Kerschner said Cory son didn’t even want her to come to court because he is terrified.
“He’s terrified for me and he’s terrified for his uncle. So this is serious and it’s just unbelievable to me that it got this far. Andrea was supposed to be locked up when this happened,” she said.
Kerschner said nobody ever expected Rivera to turn on Cory because he was “the one she really likes” but yet Rivera did.
“If she’s able to turn on Cory, who else will she turn on. I’ve lived here for 20 years and my own friends started to shy away from me because they were afraid if they associated with me that something could happen to their family. I don’t know anyone in my life that hasn’t been impacted by this. I just want this to be on the record, that that’s how serious this situation is,” she said.
Kerschner said she wanted the Court and Rivera to understand that she has nothing against Rivera and that no one in her family has any animosity.
“But the fact is that bad things can happen and she’s shown that they can happen. Whoever’s monitoring her has to take that seriously. They can’t get bored with it. They can’t six months from now thing it’s going to be okay. It’s not – it’s a 24 hour seven days a week commitment to making sure that she’s doing everything that she needs to do to make sure this never happens again,” she concluded.
Judge Lidyard gave Rivera a suspended sentence of three years on both counts with five years of supervised probation under the highest level of supervision in the community corrections program treatment outlined in the plea agreement.
“You are going to be receiving a conditional discharge so no sentence is imposed. You are simply placed on probation for five years,” he said, adding that Rivera will be placed on GPS monitoring while on probation and required to return to her residence from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. He said exclusion zones in her GPS monitoring will encompass the areas where Rivera’s family resides.
“Miss Rivera, I think you’re well aware of your circumstance and it’s a pretty serious one. As the individual that came up to the podium informed me, it’s something that’s going to be going on for years something that’s going to take effort from her to adhere to the probation and treatment requirements and remain healthy,” Judge Lidyard said. “You see what can happen when you’re not healthy. It can be really, really dark and it can really affect peoples’ lives such as this young man who is struggling ever day since this happened in November of last year. Knowing now what you’re capable of when you’re not in your right state, should be every incentive for you to wake up every day and make sure that you do what you need to do in order to maintain your ability to control your behaviors.”
He cautioned Rivera that if she fails for one reason or another and finds herself in front of him, she is exposed to the full six years, whether it’s for a simple violation of her GPS monitoring, coming home late or something extremely serious.
“It doesn’t matter where it is on the spectrum. If you come back in front of me you’re exposed to that six years. If something you’ve heard today or since November 2017 hasn’t opened your eyes to the situation, today I hope it does, because you’ve got five years to be in compliance with the requirements of your probation. That’s a lot on you but I have faith in the fact that the attorneys that worked this case know that this is a good resolution and that you’re capable of doing it. It’s in your hands now. Good luck to you Miss Rivera,” Judge Lidyard concluded.
On Sept. 7, two months prior to the stabbing incident, Rivera was sentenced in Los Alamos Municipal Court to 90 days in jail however, on Oct. 17, that judgment was amended to suspend 52 of the 90 days originally imposed and Rivera was released from custody.