TWIN FALLS — A Buhl man accused of threatening a pizza restaurant owner with a knife pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of aggravated assault.
Fredie Gomez-Hernandez, 23, was charged in August with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and providing false information to an officer. In exchange for his guilty plea, the state has dismissed the false information charge and agreed not to file a weapons sentencing enhancement.
Gomez-Hernandez entered an Alford plea, which applies when a defendant accepts a plea agreement but does not necessarily admit their guilt.
The owner of Pizza Planet in Buhl, Ricardo Medina, told police that Gomez-Hernandez came into the restaurant in July and began ordering a pizza in Spanish, according to court documents. Medina said Gomez-Hernandez became angry after Medina told him that he did not speak Spanish and that he would have to order in English.
After he chased Gomez-Hernandez out of the restaurant, Medina said, Gomez-Hernandez pulled a double-bladed knife from his pocket and began swinging it from side to side in front of him.
Medina’s fiancé, who witnessed the encounter, told police she saw Gomez-Hernandez “run towards” Medina and swing and knife, “barely missing us,” according to a police affidavit.
She also noted that Gomez-Hernandez “seemed drunk, and could not speak very well because of being under the influence of alcohol.”
Gomez-Hernandez told police at the time that he tried to order in Spanish because he does not speak English fluently and he had heard Medina speaking to a woman in Spanish when he walked in. He also said he was holding a stick that he picked up from the ground out of fear, not a knife.
Defense attorney Lupe Rodriguez said at a hearing Wednesday that Gomez-Hernandez was entering an Alford plea “not because’s trying to minimize his actions,” but because “he had been drinking that day and doesn’t quite remember everything.”
The state is recommending that Gomez-Hernandez serve a minimum of one year and maximum of five years in prison, but the judge does not have to follow that recommendation.
The maximum penalty for an aggravated assault charge is five years in prison.
Gomez-Hernandez will be sentenced Dec. 17.