Probation for York dad originally accused of kidnapping family
A York City man accused in 2019 of kidnapping his family and physically assaulting his daughter has been allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge because his actions were fueled by a psychotic episode, his attorney said.
Christian Galarza-Rodriguez pleaded guilty Thursday in York County Court to a misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats and was sentenced to two years' probation, according to court records.
"Mr. Galarza was not in his right state of mind that day," defense attorney George Margetas told The York Dispatch. "He has major remorse. … He never intended to put his kids or family members in any fear or danger."
The attorney said he believes his client wouldn't have terrorized his family that day were it not for his mental-health issues.
Deputy prosecutor Taylor Katherman recognized that and worked to craft a plea agreement that allowed Galarza-Rodriguez to get the help he needs without being convicted of a felony that could affect his ability to support his family going forward, according to Margetas.
The defendant's kidnapping charge was withdrawn at his 2019 preliminary hearing Counts of child endangerment and simple assault were dropped Thursday, court records state.
Counseling ordered: "Thank God in this situation nobody was hurt, and we've been able to help Mr. Galarza and his family," the defense attorney said, adding he and his client appreciate efforts by the York County District Attorney's Office to get to the bottom of why Galarza-Rodriguez committed the crime.
In addition to probation, presiding Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder ordered Galarza-Rodriguez, 36, of East College Avenue, to take parenting classes, have no abusive contact with his family and to undergo individual or family counseling, court records state.
Margetas said his client continues to work on his mental-health issues and has been free on supervised bail for about a year with no problems.
"He is taking steps to rectify the issues he was dealing with that day," the attorney said, adding he's represented clients in the past who have committed crimes not because they chose to, but because they were driven by mental illness.
Katherman could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
The background: York City Police arrested Galarza-Rodriguez after he allegedly struck his 11-year-old daughter with a belt in July 2019 to force her into telling him where his wife and another child were, court documents state.
He then found the wife and child in an apartment and kicked down the door and found his wife and child hiding in a closet, according to police.
He punched his wife in the face, forced her and their child into his car and threatened to kill everyone in the family, police said.
The 11-year-old was left with belt marks on her arms, torso and left leg, police have said, and the wife suffered facial injuries.
She told officers that over the previous two weeks her husband couldn't control his anger and took it out on the children, court documents state.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.