By Jamie Moddelmog
The pre-hearing conference and preliminary hearing for Tony Ray Gladden concluded on Wednesday in Department 10. Mr. Gladden is accused of making threatening and offensive statements to his mother and two employees of Sacramento Auto Sales Center, a used car dealership in West Sacramento, on March 30 of 2017.
He is charged with four counts of “criminal threatening” under Penal Code section 422, as well as with two counts of dissuading a witness, elder abuse and battery on an elder. Mr. Gladden’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Daniel Hutchinson, attempted to have several of those charges dismissed, claiming that the prosecution was doing “mental gymnastics” to back them up.
The day began with the testimony of six-month West Sacramento Police Officer Chantell Nahnen. She had responded to a call from “Sac Auto” employee “AM,” who called about a woman being hit with an object by man in a car. She went through what she had learned about the incident from on-the-scene observations and from interviews with the witnesses and defendant.
According to Officer Nahnen in her testimony, Mr. Gladden and his mother had been driving to Sac Auto so they could buy a truck. Mr. Gladden, sitting in the backseat behind his mother, who was driving, said that he wanted the truck to be bought in her name. She refused, angering her son greatly.
He picked up a walking cane from the back seat and threatened to “kill everyone in this family” if the vehicle was not in her name and said he could put her “head in between these four legs (of the cane) and shove it through the window.”
Ms. Gladden claimed in prior statements that her son hit her in the head with the cane while she was driving, saying “look how easy I could put this cane through your head.” She also stated that he forcefully pulled her hair from the back seat. Mr. Gladden denied ever assaulting her, claiming that he just threatened her.
When they arrived at Sac Auto, Ms. Gladden went in and told AM, who was working there at the time, that she had been hit and threatened by her son on the way over and asked him to call the police. Mr. Gladden was there at the time and was insistent both that the truck would go in his mother’s name and that no one would call the police.
He made several threatening remarks to AM, saying “the truck goes with me today or I’ll f— you up” and that if the truck were not put in his mother’s name he would “f— her up with the cane.”
AM’s father, “TM,” who was also working at the dealership at the time, entered later and confronted Mr. Gladden. AM had a stick that “resembled a bat” which he had taken out after Mr. Gladden started yelling at him.
Mr. Gladden told him that he would “shove that stick so far up your a– you, you’ll die before an ambulance can save you,” and “I’ll shove it so far down your father’s throat, he’ll die too.”
AM replied, “I’d like to see you try.”
Mr. Gladden told the father and son that he would beat them both up at the same time and shove their heads through the wall.
He also told TM he would “see him outside” and “whoop his a–.” Then he left the building, telling them not to call the police or he would “f— them up.”
After being located and arrested, Mr. Gladden allegedly made other remarks threatening his mother. He spontaneously said, “I promise that as soon as I get out of jail, I’ll make my mother pay,” while being interviewed by Officer Nahnen. When his mother came into the police station to identify him, Officer Nahnen testified that he threatened her under his breath.
Mr. Hutchinson claimed that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Gladden under PC section 422. His reasoning mainly pertained to the part of the law stating that the victim must “be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety” for the threatening party to be charged with a crime.
Mr. Hutchinson referenced back to testimony given on a prior day by TM, where he stated that he was not afraid of Mr. Gladden at all. He also referenced AM’s testimony, also given on a prior day, in which he “laughed and smiled” when asked about Mr. Gladden.
Although he testified that he was scared for his safety, Mr. Hutchinson said that he acted contrary to that statement, in his laughing and in the way he addressed Mr. Gladden at the scene, saying “I’d like to see you try” when threatened. He also stated that the fear was in no way sustained, because AM had testified that he was not worried about Mr. Gladden any more once he left the building.
Gladden’s threatening of AM and TM were Counts 2 and 3. Count 1 related to his threatening of his mother at the police station. Mr. Hutchison again claimed that there was no “sustained fear” due to the threat, because his mother had not even heard him say it under his breath.
Counts 4 and 5 related to his “dissuasion of witnesses,” when he ordered AM and TM not to call the police. Mr. Hutchison claimed that this was not dissuasion or prevention, as the law requires, that Gladden was simply asking them not to call the police. The prosecution countered that he made a verbal threat in his asking, saying he would “f— them up.”
Mr. Hutchinson claimed that that statement could not necessarily be trusted because it came from Officer Nahnen, who had previously, at an earlier court appearance, mixed up the statements of Mr. Gladden and TM and had gotten other facts mixed up as well, later going back on her testimony. He stated that her record and the very limited time she has spent on the force made her not a credible source.
The prosecuting attorney addressed some of the defense’s claims pertaining to the lack of “sustained fear” by the victims. He referenced the fact that the victims did not have to fear for themselves to bring a charge under section 422, but they could also be in sustained fear for their family members. He claimed that TM was in sustained fear for his son, AM.
Mr. Hutchinson agreed that TM was afraid for his son, evidenced by his testimony saying he was, but he stated that his fear was not actually due to comments made by Mr. Gladden, but rather just fear that his son would get in a physical altercation.
Judge Daniel P. Maguire ruled that Count 1, which alleged Mr. Gladden threatened his mother at the police station, did not have enough evidence to back it up, seeing that his mother did not hear the comment and so was not in sustained fear. He did not issue a holding order on that count.
He did issue holding orders on Counts 2, 3, 4 and 5, as well as on the enhancement alleging Gladden threatened “great bodily injury.” Judge Maguire claimed that these counts met the burden of proof for the prelim, which he stated entailed a “strong suspicion.”
Mr. Gladden’s arraignment on the information will be held on August 24 in Department 10.