By Fabiha Zaman
The jury trial for codefendants Ricky Gomez Hernandez and Joshua Armond Cadenaz-Lopez reconvened on October 10, 2017. These men have allegedly committed 2nd degree robbery, used a firearm, attempted assault with a firearm, and been involved with criminal street gang activity.
When the court came back from lunch break, Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes called the first witness of the afternoon. Detective Darren McMillan from Sacramento gave a testimony that pertained to a robbery which took place at an ampm near Florin Road in Sacramento on October 18, 2016.
Mr. Hasapes presented Detective McMillan with a Hi-Point firearm and a magazine enclosed in a manila folder. Det. McMillan recognized the firearm and magazine from the tags and markings on the manila folder, but admitted he had no contact with it other than receiving it from the police department and subsequently booking it in a locker at the police facility.
Members of the defense team, Attorney Jem Martin, representing Cadenaz-Lopez, and Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance, representing Hernandez, attempted to ask Det. McMillan about the packaging in which he received the firearm and magazine, but he was unable to recall any details besides the fact that he received the items in two separate boxes.
After Judge David Rosenberg excused Det. McMillan, the People called Supervising Forensic Investigator Candace Primrose as the next witness. She was also presented with the same manila envelope that contained the firearm and magazine, and recognized the evidence since the envelope had her badge and initials on it. She recalled that she retrieved it from the evidence lab print locker room from the Sacramento Police Department.
The witness then testified that she attempted to test fire it as part of the standard procedure she conducts when her office receives firearms. As she was conducting the operability test, the slide at the top of the gun became locked. Unable to finish the rest of the procedure, she re-stored it until she received a call from Mr. Hasapes on September 28, 2017, about testifying for this case. After the call, she proceeded to familiarize herself with the firearm again and found that whatever had been blocking the slide had been dislodged or dissolved in the 10 months it had been sitting
During her cross-examination from the defense counsel, Investigator Primrose clarified that, upon her initial check of the firearm, the slide was functioning up to a certain point during the test. She then revealed that when firearms first arrive at her office, another department processes for latent prints, and the chemicals or other agents used in that test could have contributed to the lock up of the slide.
Before being excused, a juror posed a question to the witness, asking if the oil used to lubricate the gun during the second examination could have helped unlock the slide, to which the witness hesitantly answered yes.
The next witness to be called to the stand was a bystander during the hit and run incident on October 28, 2016. This witness was parked at a storage facility near F Street in Sacramento. He was attempting to leave when he found the driveway blocked by an SUV. The witness then noticed a slim male around 6 feet 5 inches tall step out of the vehicle and begin waving a flashlight back and forth. The witness described the slim male’s demeanor as angry. The witness then said he saw this man get hit by a car and go “flying through the air.” This phrase was mentioned a total of four times by this witness, but was stricken from the record each time.
This witness continued to receive objections of non-responsiveness and nothing pending from the defense counsel, at which point Judge Rosenberg became frustrated with the witness and asked the jury to step outside. Once the jury was outside, Mr. Hasapes revealed that he had instructed the witness not to discuss specifics of the collision. Judge Rosenberg then helped the witness understand how to answer the questions from the counsel and proceeded to call the jury back in.
As the jury settled back in, the witness testified that it was a blue car that hit the man that came out of the SUV, and that he was unable to recall anything else about the other (gold) car.
During the cross-examination, the witness was unable to recall the color of the SUV but said that it was a BMW when asked for details by the defense counsel. He added that the man who was hit by the car waved the flashlight in a threatening manner, and after he was hit, about eight to nine people, including the witness himself, tried to help him. When asked by the defense counsel if he had seen a gun on this day, the witness answered no before being excused.
The next People’s witness was Officer Cameron Simpson, who is a police officer for the city of West Sacramento. He confirmed that he was the first law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene of the hit and run that occurred on October 28, 2016.
His testimony consisted primarily of his interaction with one specific witness on the scene and his interview with him following the hit and run incident. This witness that Officer Simpson had interviewed observed both the blue and gold vehicles that day and mentioned that one person from the gold car stepped out and walked over to the interviewed witness and said, “Oh do you want it homie? Yeah we’re looking for you. Yeah we’re coming for you.”
This witness interviewed by Officer Simpson also estimated that there might have been two or more people in the blue car. Officer Simpson then stated that when he arrived on the scene there were around four or five people helping the man who was allegedly hit by the blue car.
Officer Simpson also explained how the particular witness he talked to had seen a firearm at the scene and had immediately ducked.
During the cross from defense counsel, Officer Simpson related that the witness described the man who got out of the gold car to be around 5 feet 8 inches tall, and at some point during the incident he went over to the blue car. Officer Simpson had no recollection of an argument that day.
After Mr. Hasapes’ brief redirect, Mr. Martin asked Officer Simpson many procedural questions about obtaining more information from the witnesses he talked to the day of the incident and why he didn’t pursue certain lines of questioning when interviewing witnesses to obtain the most accurate information.
Officer Mark Flatley of West Sacramento PD was the last witness of the day. At around 6 PM on October 20, 2016, Officer Flatley was directed to look for a tan/gold Acura. Later that same night, he was directed to look for a silver Chevrolet Colorado, which he proceeded to stop after following it for some time. Officer Flatley, along with the other officers with him that night, conducted a felony stop. He identified approximately three men of Hispanic descent in the car. Once those subjects inside the car had been detained, Officer Flatley helped conduct a search of the car, during which he saw another officer remove two handguns from the car.
Just as the defense counsel finished their very brief cross-examination of Officer Flatley, court adjourned for the day.