MERCED — Prosecutors declined to file charges against a Merced County employee who was arrested a week ago in connection with the discovery by police of numerous firearms and ammunition at her home.
The Merced County District Attorneys Office said Friday there was insufficient evidence to charge 35-year-old Marissa Ann Gonzales with child endangerment and possession of a stolen firearm.
Gonzales and her longtime boyfriend, Pedro Garcia, were arrested March 1 at their La Palma Lane home after the Merced Police Department gang unit reportedly found five handguns, a shotgun, a rifle, a large amount of ammunition and body armor in the couples garage. One of the firearms had been reported stolen, authorities said.
Police said gang members were using the home as a weapons stash house. Prosecutors also declined to file any gang-related charges in the case, according to Merced County Superior Court records.
Its been hell this week, Gonzales said. I just want people to know that Im just in a bad situation that I have no control over.
Prosecutors did file felony charges against Garcia.
Garcia pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition with a prior strike, receiving stolen property and possession of body armor. He was ordered to appear March 14 for a preliminary hearing, according to court records.
Deputy District Attorney Mathew Martinez said he could not elaborate on the decision to drop the case against Gonzales because of the ongoing case against her boyfriend.
Garcia told investigators that all of the guns were his and that Gonzales didnt know anything about them, according to both officials involved in the case and Gonzales.
Hes been telling them that from the get-go, Gonzales said. I understand the cops say that I shouldve known they were there. Im not going to fault them, but I didnt know.
Gonzales, who describes Garcia as her husband, said she isnt mad at the system.
My husband made poor choices and now were all suffering from them, my kids especially, Gonzales said.
Their children, a 1-year-old boy and two girls, ages 16 and 9, were turned over to Child Protective Services. Gonzales hopes to get her children back as soon as possible now that the case against her has been dismissed.
Im working with them (CPS) to do whatever it takes to get my kids back, Gonzales said. Im sure theres a process; I understand that their top priority is making sure kids are safe and thats my top priority too.
Gonzales works in the countys Human Services Agency as a family services representative. Shes been with the county since 1999.
Everybodys treated my family fairly well, for the most part, Gonzales said. My familys been behind me and his (Garcias) family has been behind me 100 percent. Im doing whatever it takes to fix it and get through it and get my kids back. Thats all I care about right now.
Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 385-2482.