By Nicholas Winarto
Detective Michael Munoz took the witness stand again on Monday in the jury trial involving Joseph Hernandez, Rakhem Bradford, and Joshua Givens. The three defendants are accused of burglary, receiving stolen property and possession of marijuana related to several Davis and UCD dorm burglaries in 2013. The defense counsel started the first round of questions.
Defense Attorney Ava Landers, representing Mr. Bradford, asked Detective Munoz about standard procedures that officers follow when serving up search warrants. Det. Munoz said that, generally, they would do a pat down while in the process of detaining, but it is not required. Ms. Landers asked this because Det. Munoz said he found an iPhone, one of the many items reported to be stolen, but Ms. Landers questioned whether it definitely came from Rakhem Bradford’s pockets and was put into evidence after a pat down.
Next, Ms. Landers brought up the topic of the blue Canon camera found in room #5. An unnamed officer was in charge of searching the room, and Detective Munoz said he stood by the officer as they looked through the photos. Although the last picture taken was of someone associated with the Drexel Drive address and the camera therefore could be the defendant’s property, the rest of the images suggested that the camera was stolen property. James Granucci, representing Mr. Givens, later asked Det. Munoz to confirm whether the resident of room #5 came to acquire the Canon camera by exchanging marijuana with Joseph Hernandez’s brother, to which Detective Munoz said yes.
While the officers were serving the search warrant on December 19, 2013, at Drexel Drive, Mr. Bradford along with several others were detained. On that day, Mr. Bradford was wearing a gold watch with the brand name Nixon, and a picture of him wearing the watch was taken, not knowing at the time whether the watch was stolen property or not. Before the jury came in, Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin submitted Rakhem Bradford’s Instagram history to the court, in which there were pictures of the gold Nixon watch.
On December 7, 2013, residents associated with the Drexel Drive address allegedly burgled the home of an individual that a key witness later described as a known drug dealer. The victim lost a plastic bin filled with several Ziploc bags of marijuana. At the time the search warrant was served on Drexel Drive on December 19, 2013, marijuana at the residence was confiscated for possession with the intent to sell, but Det. Munoz did not know then that the marijuana confiscated was linked to a recent burglary.
Later, it was revealed to Detective Munoz on December 23, 2013, by a key witness who was being driven around that day by the detective, that the confiscated marijuana was linked to one of the burglaries. On December 30, 2013, Det. Munoz met with the victim, who then revealed that he had approximately $1,200 worth of marijuana stolen. During the interview, Detective Munoz and the victim watched a video, taken from a phone, relating to the marijuana where the victim identified words written on the Ziploc bag. Detective Munoz then confirmed for himself that the bags had writing on them and the victim had explained what it meant.
Across the street from this victim, a neighbor, who was noted to have binoculars and who witnessed the burglary, identified from a photo lineup Joseph Hernandez and the key witness as being present. Detective Munoz described a photo lineup as a series of six photographs, including that of the suspect, of individuals with similar looking features/color which the witness looks at to try to identify the suspect seen that day.
Ms. Landers then pointed out that the witness also identified two white suspects in addition to Joseph Hernandez and the key witness, however Detective Munoz stated that he did not ask the witness about the other two suspects.
Deputy DA Serafin asked Detective Munoz about items that are documented during search warrants and why those specific items are documented. Detective Munoz said that they take note of items that appear to be of relevance, such as items that have been reported as stolen. Furthermore, he also noted that items placed in areas where one would normally not place such items are also documented. Detective Munoz was asked about a Skagen watch and a pair of sunglasses that he found atop a kitchen cabinet, and he said he confiscated the items because it appeared to him that the items were placed that high with the intention of concealment.
A gray backpack located on top of a bed in the living room of Drexel Drive became a point of a heated debate. According to Detective Munoz, the backpack contained an Xbox console along with five to ten Xbox games. When James Granucci asked if the owner of the backpack and the bed had been identified, Detective Munoz said that there were no items found that would readily identify the owners.
With regard to the Xbox console, Ms. Landers argued that the console is similar to other models and there is no way to identify the real owner because Detective Munoz stated that there were no key features on it that would allow that. Furthermore, the Xbox games did not have any stickers or names on them, so again, identifying the real owner is not possible. Ms. Landers reasoned that one disc for “Call of Duty” is indistinguishable from another disc of the same game, unless there is visible damage to the disc or stickers on the packaging. Because it is difficult to discern a difference in ownership between two of the same games, it cannot be said that the games found in the backpack were stolen.
Ms. Landers went on further to say that the games could have easily been brought in to Drexel Drive by a third party, or bought from a local game store.