By Fabiha Zaman
On Tuesday afternoon in Department 14, Judge David Rosenberg presided over the conditional examination of Brandon Ryan Vidales, who faces allegations of possession of illegal firearms and selling illegal firearms. He is also charged with involvement in criminal street gang activity and sales of illegal narcotics.
The sole witness for the examination was Fred Vidales, established by the court to be Brandon Vidales’ father. During the People’s direct examination, Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson asked Fred Vidales if his son currently lived with him. He responded no, saying that the defendant had his own apartment, which he moved into three or four years ago.
During further questioning from the People, Fred Vidales also revealed that, in 2015, the police had come with a search warrant to search the safe that he kept in his house. The police forced him to open the safe and then proceeded to remove the multiple firearms they had found in it. There were many police officers, all of whom Fred Vidales talked to about the weapons they found, and he assured Ms. Johnson he had been truthful in his answers to their questions.
Fred Vidales also explained that the police found him in his backyard and, when the officers approached him, they threatened to take his grandkids away if he did not provide them with answers about whose firearms were in the safe belonged. Fred Vidales also admitted that at the time he had told the officers the guns were his, an answer he later changed in following police reports.
Ms. Johnson asked Fred Vidales if he knew that some of the weapons the officers had found on the day of the search were assault rifles which were illegal to own in the state of California. Mr. Vidales
answered yes, but added that he had kept his own legally-bought pistols in that safe, which the officers also took. Ms. Johnson then confused Mr. Vidales when she asked if he remembered whether any of the weapons had the serial numbers removed. Judge Rosenberg then allowed Mr. Vidales to review the reports to help refresh his memory.
After a short break, Fred Vidales confirmed that he eventually told the officers that the Glock pistol and the .45 caliber Heckler & Koch pistol belonged to Brandon. The officers had also found a large can of ammunition in the safe, which included some of Mr. Vidales’ own magazines.
The final question Ms. Johnson asked on direct was whether Mr. Vidales let anyone else store anything in the safe, to which he responded no, before Judge Rosenberg allowed Attorney J. Toney, representing Brandon Vidales, to begin his questioning of the witness.
During cross-examination, Mr. Vidales revealed that although he had given police officers different accounts of the incident involving the safe, he made it clear that he did not want to answer questions without the presence of his attorney, a request the police apparently ignored. Mr. Vidales also revealed that he was not read his Miranda rights and the officers did not properly show Mr. Vidales the search warrant when he asked to see it before they entered his home.
Mr. Toney also inquired about when Brandon Vidales had brought the guns to Fred Vidales. The witness said his son brought the guns to him approximately a year before the police had come with a search warrant in 2015.
The witness also confidently dismissed any notion that his son was involved in criminal street gang activity and added that nothing taken from the safe or his house during the police search was claimed by the officers to be gang paraphernalia. When the defendant’s nickname “Bone” was brought up under suspicion that it was given to him by a gang, Mr. Vidales said the only time he heard anyone call his son Bone was during Brandon’s childhood, as it was a nickname given to him by his grandparents. Mr. Vidales also dismissed any rumors suggesting that his son sold illegal guns or methamphetamine.
During Ms. Johnson’s redirect, Mr. Vidales was asked about a file containing news clippings of documented gang violence incidents across Woodland. He confirmed that the file was Brandon’s and that Brandon had given the file to him to put in the safe. Mr. Vidales included that he was unaware of the news clippings in the file.
Brandon Vidales’ conditional examination came to an end once Mr. Toney said he had no further re-cross. Court will reconvene on this issue on November 28 for the scheduled preliminary hearing.