CAMP VERDE – Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Michael R. Bluff deliberated a choice as he often does on Mondays: send 50-year-old Mongco Thich, convicted of child abuse after a jury trial, to prison or grant her probation. The charge is a Class 2 felony, meaning a sentence could range from four to 10 years in prison.
Thich, a resident of Sedona, did not wish to use a Vietnamese translator at her sentencing. She told the court she did not believe she was being translated well enough. Bluff told Thich that was “fine,” but she would need to speak slowly, so that the court reporter could understand her.
Prosecutor Ethan Wolfinger did not have a recommended sentence for the court.
“Ms. Thich has had an unshakeable belief that the system has wronged her,” Wolfinger told the court. “She has no willingness to see that her conduct has led her to her conviction … I don’t know what to recommend. I don’t know how a probation officer is going to work with someone like her.”
At previous court dates, Thich interrupted Judge Bluff repeatedly. She was escorted out of the Yavapai County Court House by security twice.
Thich’s appointed attorney, Adam Zickerman, told the court he was in a “precarious position.” Zickerman requested to withdraw as Thich’s attorney, citing the client-attorney relationship was strained. Thich also requested Zickerman be dismissed twice due to “ineffective assistance.” All motions to dismiss Zickerman were denied by the court.
“I’ve had an ethical obligation to my client. I don’t think sending her to prison is the right thing to do,” Zickerman said.
Zickerman also told the court Thich has no familial or community support. She served 38 days of jail already. The Arizona Department of Child Safety removed her child from her custody.
Bluff allowed Thich to address the court.
Thich denied hurting her daughter.
“I love my daughter,” Thich told the court through tears. Then her words became slurred, and she collapsed into sobs.
Bluff instructed Thich to sit down and relax, while he called another case, giving her time to calm down.
In court, Bluff said he did not believe Thich should go to prison. But he also agreed that she would likely not succeed on supervised probation.
He ordered she be placed on one year of unsupervised probation and be released that day. Thich again, collapsed into tears.
“Thank you,” Thich said.
The next day, Thich was charged with false reporting to law enforcement, a misdemeanor. After an altercation with court security officers, Thich filed a police report claiming the staff assaulted her, according to court staff. According to court staff, security cameras at Yavapai County Superior Court showed that claim to be false.
Thich is scheduled for an arraignment in Verde Valley Justice Court April 19.