On August 15, 2014, Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo called upon three witnesses in the preliminary hearing for People v. Eric Moss.
Defendant Eric Moss is charged with the physical assault of a victim, during a street altercation at a bus stop, and the possession of methamphetamine.
DDA Palumbo’s first witness, West Sacramento Fire Department Captain Ken Wong, saw the physical assault from the fire truck’s passenger seat. As the truck was parallel parked at the curb, Captain Wong witnessed the victim’s discomfort beside the defendant, and saw the victim scoot to the end of the bench at the bus stop. As the argument escalated into pushing and shoving, the victim eventually stood up to fight and participate in that interaction.
Though there were no fists thrown, the witness saw a two- to three-inch pocket knife blade flash from the defendant’s right hand. This ultimately proceeded with witnessing the defendant slashing and causing a deep laceration on the victim’s leg. After the blow, the defendant ran one or two blocks away to a local store but eventually returned back to the scene without the pocket knife. As Deputy District Attorney Palumbo concluded her examination, she asked “Did the two appear to be intoxicated?”
“Yes,” the witness affirmed.
Ms. Palumbo’s second witness, Firefighter Damon Nordby, claimed that he was seated in the driver’s seat of the fire truck when he witnessed the bus stop altercation from an estimated 50-foot distance. Despite the distance, the firefighter asserted that his view of the altercation was unobstructed. Based on the body language of the individuals, Firefighter Nordby stated that it appeared that a verbal argument was transpiring. He claimed that the woman was seated on the bench of the bus stop while the man stood nearby for an approximate one to two minutes before the argument turned physical.
Although he was not within earshot, Firefighter Nordby claimed that both individuals were yelling while physically pushing each other, before the man pulled out a folding knife and began swinging it at the woman. With his right hand he swung the knife at the woman’s forearm and legs as she stood up in defense. Nordby claimed that he turned to Captain Wong and stated, “Hey, he’s got a knife,” before both fire personnel went to the woman’s aid. According to Nordby, Captain Wong called for reinforcements as they aided the women with a bleeding laceration on her leg.
While the women received help, the man involved in the altercation walked away from the scene toward local business and around the building. When asked if the defendant came back to the scene, Nordby explained that, although he came back empty handed and without a knife, both firemen refused to speak with him as both were occupied with the victim.
During cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Teal Dixon tried to cast doubt on whether the witness had a truly unobstructed view of the altercation. When asked how high up the vehicle was from the ground, the witness stated that truck was about two to three feet above ground level. Ms. Dixon then questioned whether the two officers were speaking to each other as they witnessed the altercation.
According to Nordby, both officers were speaking as they faced each other. This indicated that both officers lacked full vision as they spoke. When asked if he saw where the knife had come from, Nordby stated that he did not see where it was taken from.
Officer Stefan Iwanicki of the West Sacramento Police Department offered his observation of the defendant and the victim’s physical assault, as he was the first police officer to arrive on the scene. Officer Iwanicki claimed that, as he was dispatched to West Capitol Ave. of West Sacramento, one of his partners, Officer Warren Estrada, canvassed the area and found the defendant’s pocket knife on the ground. When the defendant was searched, Officer Iwanicki claimed to have found a meth bindle in the coin pocket of the defendant’s pants. The officer conducted a narcotic field drug test and found the substance positive with a net weight of 0.2 grams.
According to Ms. Dixon, the substance was a small amount and it was not entirely the defendant’s fault. She submitted that he was unaware of the substance in his pants pocket, as the pants were from the Salvation Army.