By Alexandra Quilici
The meticulous questioning of a key witness in the trial against Joesph Kaleimanu Hernandez, Rakhem Romel Bradford, and Joshua Anthony Givens resumed on Wednesday morning.
After already testifying on the two previous days, the witness continued to answer questions from Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin the entire morning and afternoon.
The level of intensity throughout the day was a matter of sorting out what happened when, which houses could be accurately identified as a source of burglary, and the level of involvement the accused partook in. The witness mostly only had information about Joseph Hernandez, as he was her boyfriend at the time.
The witness described herself as an involved member of the burglaries, however, she very strongly stated she had no reason or want to lie in defense of Hernandez. Her choice in taking a plea deal means her honest testimony hinges on her future- something she stated with great conviction and emotion.
She went into immense detail about two particularly houses her and Hernandez stole from.
The first being a house that belonged to a “girl’s team” from UC Davis (later having an epiphany mid sentence that is was the track team) and that the two walked into the unlocked front door of the house after making sure nobody was home.
The reasoning behind this she claimed was because she had just lent $1000 in rent money to Hernandez and this was a way for him to pay her back. He went upstairs in the house, and she lingered downstairs swiping a game console because she thought, “Manu would want it.” (Manu being the name she calls Hernandez).
After being upstairs without the witness, Hernandez came downstairs with a bag. The witness “does not recall” if there was anything inside it. She then stated that she brought the gaming console to 1801 Drexel, a house that acted as a haven where “all the stolen stuff went to.”
At this girl’s team house, she estimated they were there for less than 5 minutes. She did give the police this house when interviewed in 2013, but she only mentioned it in passing. She did not flesh out all the details at the time or mention her involvement.
Every burglary the witness is accused of she claims that Hernandez was “100% yes” with her. She never ventured out on her own. The two would even call each other “Bonnie and Clyde” in text message exchanges, and the witness said she was “wanting to live a life of crime.” She remembered that she got immense thrill from the actions and committing these actions were a “complete high.”
Initially, when the witness was questioned in December of 2013, she made false statements about Rakhem Romel that he acted as a “lookout” for another one of her and Hernandez’s burglaries. She corrected today that he was drunk and not coherent to be a part of the event.
She says that some of her initial statements to the police were lies because she was “angry” about the situation and felt like she was being “ditched” by the group.
She told many different lies in her December 23rd, 2013 interview at the time she was scared and also protecting Hernandez because she “still had feelings for him”.
Another key aspect to her testimony is a house in Davis that was near a 7-Eleven. The witness, Hernandez, and another person not on trial were able to walk into the home as the front door was left open.
At this house, the witness hung out around the doorway. She described a very small house with a beat up television, trash, clothes, and miscellaneous items spread about the area.
At this house she said she stole a skateboard because she “thought the guys would like a skateboard”. The person that was with them stole a computer.
Again, she “does not recall” if Hernandez stole anything.
The reason they chose this house is because Hernandez told her that he had “hit them before.” Meaning, he had burglarized them previously.
Later that night, the witness went to a bar to socialize and met up with some people who brought her back their place- she realized it was the same place near 7-Eleven that she had just stolen from. She immediately left after becoming “so embarrassed.”
In another instance, Hernandez and the witness spotted someone who Hernandez knew and pointed at the man and said that he had robbed him before. The man said that Hernandez had robbed him twice, but Hernandez told the witness it was only once.
After describing these two different houses her and Hernandez stole from, a series of text messages were brought forth to the court.
One was from the witness that stated that one night (around three in the morning) she texted she was “working by myself.” The witness today guessed that she meant she was walking around and looking for places to rob.
When asked how Hernandez thought of the burglaries, the witness said he used the words “work” in regards to “scoping” out new places to steal from. She said undoubtedly that Hernandez was “the leader” of the group. The witness would pitch ideas to Hernandez about where to steal from next.
“Proud” was the word she used to describe when asked how Hernandez spoke of his alleged burglaries.
Together, the two would often scope the dorms on the UC Davis campus. The witness texted Hernandez that around the beginning of the school year when everyone was moving in is a perfect time to commit crimes because “everyone is drunk” at the start of a new quarter.
She noted that Hernandez was interested in mostly getting computers from the dorm rooms.
The witness would come into conflict with her friends that were aware of her relationship with Hernandez. She described how she deleted one friend from all her social media after she put she was engaged to Hernandez on Facebook.
When the police started investigating the crimes, the witness tried to delete all her social media accounts after being warned by a friend who was questioned. She couldn’t because she only had a phone with her and at the time (2013) one could only delete accounts from their laptops.
The police also took the witness around in August and they made her point out houses that she and Hernandez had burglarized. During this, she noted the girl’s track team house and the house near 7-Eleven- both of which she went into great detail today.
Mr. Givens and Mr. Bradford’s attorney’s continually noted the separation between what the witness was saying about Hernandez and the other two men’s involvement.
Judge Dave Reed dismissed the court for the day to be resumed the following morning.