by Antoinnette Borbon
As the morning began, the prosecution’s case-in-chief continued with an audiotape of a key witness in this case. Billy Wolfington and Shannon Silva are the two defendants charged with stabbing a man to death in a West Sacramento motel, in the early evening of September 2, 2011.
Carlitha Gordon was the voice on the recorded audio. I missed the name of the West Sacramento officer who actually recorded her statement. As the interrogation first started out, the West Sacramento police officer began asking her questions. Carlitha seemed to rant on and on about her life and how bad it was at the present.
She talked about losing her father and how it made her turn to drug abuse again. She also talked about having to turn to a life she was not proud of, to be able to eat and have a place to stay. She also talked about a man whom she had bought a car from which turned out to be a stolen vehicle. Carlitha felt as if she had been set up, and about possibly having a price on her head for telling police who sold her the car. It would seem like forever until the officer could get her to begin to tell of the events of the night in question.
Finally, a very tired and sick Carlitha began to tell the story. Although she occasionally lost focus, she was able to tell the officer how the two defendants ended up in her room. Carlitha stated a man whom she nicknamed “Red,” along with another bigger dude, came by to see if anyone wanted to buy a laptop.
She stated it was not long before she and a few friends were drinking and smoking pot, while playing a game she called, “ten thousand.” She admitted to smoking meth with her friends, too, but stated the victim, “Bobby,” did not. After just a short time, things took a dark turn. Carlitha said from the time she first saw the bigger dude, who would later be identified as the defendant, Billy Wolfington, he gave her a bad vibe. She stated, “He just had this look about him, like he was there to do something, made me feel scared.”
But Carlitha told the officer, “I didn’t get that from Red, he and I met before. I felt he (Red) was attracted to me but nothing happened, we just stayed friends.” She stated her friend “Kiki” wanted people to leave but was too afraid to ask them so she did it for her. Carlitha said when she told “Bobby” he had to leave, he got angry and said even if he left, he would be coming back. She felt “Bobby” was acting like he was in a prison yard. It was unclear to Carlitha why he would want to come back.
Bobby was exchanging words with Wolfington and Silva, but Carlitha did not hear the content of the conversation. She said Bobby was talking [expletive] and Wolfington was the first to hit him. She stated, “It happened so fast, it was like, like, I didn’t even know what happened.” She said when the fighting started she left the room. She told the officer she did not even know Bobby had been stabbed. But she did speak of seeing a butterfly knife, could not hear who had the knife. She asserted that her friend “Red” had nothing to do with the stabbing.
Carlitha went on to tell police that Kiki blamed her for the fight: “Look what you did, you made this happen!” Kiki exclaimed! Carlitha told police she was trying to protect Kiki. She said Kiki was scared.
The officer started to probe Carlitha deeper, stating, “I am not trying to offend you but I feel there are things you are leaving out.” Carlitha responded with profanity. She exclaimed, “I told you everything I know, that dude was just a crazy [expletive] and if you feel I am not telling you it all, then that is just your feelings.”
She went on to tell the officer, “Right now, I’m just like..I’m still…I’m going to be [expletive] by anybody who knows ‘B’ – I know there is a price on my head…”
As the interrogation continued, it began to sound like Carlitha was being pushed to say things which were not true. The officer began drilling Carlitha about gang relations between the two defendants and Bobby. He asked Carlitha if the stabbing may have been drug related, and she answered “no.” She stated she knew “B” did not sell drugs. He then asked about a phone call made by Wolfington while in her room, but she explained it only was about the sale of the laptop.
She talked about an incident earlier, about two weeks ago, when “B” was shot at by a white male. But she felt it had nothing to do with this stabbing. As time went on, Carlitha began to cry as the officer talked about “B” being stabbed. He asked her if she felt this incident had anything to do with “B” being a known Crip member, or the fact that the two defendants were allegedly from the Broderick Boys. She stated, “No, I never heard them say that and I never really knew about Bobby being a Crip.”
Carlitha kept expressing her fear of Wolfington and how he was acting that night. She stated even “Red, whose real name is Silva, seemed to be acting a bit different.” She repeatedly expressed fear for herself and Kiki.
A very exhausted Carlitha stated, “I am sick, and I am so tired, I just need to go rest,” Finally, the interrogation was over and Carlitha was able to go home. Deputy DA Couzens played a brief phone conversation between the officer and Carlitha. He was informing her of a subpeona.
Later in the afternoon, DDA Couzens put Officer Labin Wilson on the stand to talk about his expertise in gang activity, members and characteristics. Wilson has been working in the gang task force unit for about 5 1/2 years. He described the life of a gang member and what the de-briefing process is for gang members. Wilson stated he has also been self-educated, along with extensive training, through the help of other officers and gang members themselves.
Wilson expressed a sincere concern for these young men and a desire to help turn their lives away from crime. He talked about working with the community and other agencies to provide a way out of the gang life.
In cross, Defense Attorney Ron Johnson seemed a bit frustrated with Wilson’s answers. He repeatedly asked Wilson to elaborate specifically about the de-briefing process. Wilson stated he had only completed one, but assisted in 10 to 12 others. Wilson talked about helping mentor younger gang members. He explained how he was more like a support system, but it had been successful in the past with some.
Defense counsel Johnson asked, “So what did you do to help turn these young members away from that life, did you help with drug treatment programs or education, jobs?” Wilson answered, “It was more of a support, I gave them my phone number to call me when they felt like it, it seemed to help some but we did try to help with jobs and getting them into the military, educating them.”
Johnson asked about the hours of training Wilson put in and if he knew about the Broderick Boys or Northern Riders. Wilson stated he did. Johnson even asked about a power point which Wilson and Couzens had put together for this case. Finally, Johnson stated to Wilson, “You have not really answered my questions, but I am done.” Clearly, he was not content with Wilson’s answers.