Sour note: Humming in court backfires on California defendant

A California man hoping for a plea deal in a drug sales case began humming loudly, and his antics struck a sour note with a judge, who changed her tune and scrapped the deal.

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Rogelio Garcia Jr. had agreed to a plea deal but was not interested when Orange County prosecutor Claudia Alvarez tried to warn him that causing a death by selling fentanyl-laced drugs could lead to a murder charge, The Orange County Register reported.

With his hands shackled, Garcia could not put his fingers in his ears. Instead, on the advice of defense attorney Justin Cerrillo, Garcia began humming loudly until the lawyer signaled him to stop, the newspaper reported.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Herrera subsequently rejected the plea deal and ordered Garcia to face trial -- and perhaps a longer jail sentence, according to the Register.

The humming tactic obviously was not a hit with the judge, but it shows how defense attorneys are pushing back to charge fentanyl-related deaths as murders, according to the newspaper.

Prosecutors consider the drug-related deaths as poisonings, rather than overdoses.

California state law has a similar strategy in drunken driving cases, the Register reported. In those cases, intoxicated drivers who have been previously warned of the risks and dangers of such behavior can be charged with murder if they cause a traffic death.

The warnings are called advisements.

No drug dealers have been charged with murder in Orange County, but District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he is putting them on notice.

“If you peddle fentanyl, and you kill somebody in my county, we will absolutely consider charging you with murder. Enough is enough,” Spitzer said, according to the Register. “You can hum all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that drug dealers are killing people by selling them fentanyl, and at some point, they will face the music.”