A jury in Virginia had to convict a maid for felony grand larceny after she stole $5,000 worth of rings from the home she cleaned- but felt badly for the pregnant 19-year-old, so they paid her fine for her.
Jury foreman Jeffery Memmott says they pooled together $80 for Sandra Mendez Ortega, who is pregnant with her second child, after they convicted her. But while the story seems sweet- the victim, Lisa Copeland, is outraged.
'I just pray that they're never in my shoes,' Copeland told the Washington Post. She also says Ortega never accepted responsibility for the theft. 'If she had accepted accountability, I would be okay with all of this. The fact that she won't accept accountability makes it wrong.'
Lisa Copeland (left) was furious when she learned the maid that stole her rings, Sandra Mendez Ortega (right) had her fine paid for her by the jury that convicted her
Copeland's rings that were stolen included her grandmother's engagement ring, and her wedding band, a third ring that was returned by Ortega had little value and she didn't know it was gone until she returned it
Copeland was also angered by the paltry $60 fine, which equated to one day of services as a maid, and that Ortega made off $20 richer.
'I was outraged,' Copeland said. 'I was just flabbergasted. I didn't think $60 equated to the crime at all.'
One juror knew that 'Justice had to be done.' But the juror, Janice Woolridge said, 'there's also got be some compassion somewhere. Young people make bad decisions. We just couldn't pile on any more.'
'The general sentiment was she was a victim, too,' Memmott said. 'Two of the women [jurors] were crying because of how bad they felt. One lady pulled out a $20 bill, and just about everybody chipped in.'
After Copeland had her home cleaned in September of 2016, she noticed two rings were missing, the third had little value and went unnoticed until they were returned to her.
One of the rings was her grandmother's engagement ring- made in 1943, the other was her wedding ring.
She contacted the company that she used for the cleaning, and at first none of the three women confessed during interviews with police.
Afterwards Ortega felt bad and admitted her wrongdoing to her boss and handed over the rings to him. She then confessed to the police.
Lisa, with her husband Jeff, are both disappointed that Ortega got off as easily as she did
Copeland says it was not revealed to the benevolent jury that Ortega is in America illegally.
Copeland says she was told her citizen status was not relevant to the crime, but she disagrees.
'I think it's relevant to the case,' Copeland said, adding that being convicted of a felony has less implications for an illegal immigrant who can't vote or buy a gun anyway- as those are rights that are taken away from felons.
'It really irritates me that she came here and committed a felony,' said Jeff Copeland, Lisa Copeland's husband. 'People are coming here because there is opportunity here. But when they come here and commit crimes, that's where you've got to draw the line.'