Court Watch Briefs: Probation Violation and Stalking Trial

By Teja Dusanapudi and Fabiha Zaman


Probation Violation Hearing Resumes with New Testimony

By Teja Dusanapudi

On Thursday afternoon, the probation violation hearing for Jonathan Andrew Ruby briefly proceeded with two witnesses, a police officer and a probation officer, appearing on the stand. Mr. Ruby had previously been charged with burglary in the second degree and petty theft among other charges, with various pleas and probation, and testimony covered those topics in relation to Mr. Ruby’s future in probation.

The People began the proceeding by calling Officer Cody Coulter to the stand, a West Sacramento police officer for 4.5 years. Officer Coulter began his testimony with the events occurring on August 26, 2017, at approximately 5:05 pm, when he had been tasked with dealing with a package theft. After arriving on the scene, he “observed two males on bikes,” one he identified as “AC” and the other as Jonathan Ruby.

Officer Coulter explained that he had recognized the former due to his tattoo and the latter by observing previously stored photos of him. At the People’s inquiry of Mr. Ruby’s past activity in West Sacramento, Officer Coulter indicated that Mr. Ruby had past encounters with the police, identifying him in court and in a picture presented to him by the People, which was later submitted as evidence.

The defense, represented by Deputy Public Defender Peter Borruso, did not cross-examine.

After Officer Coulter, Supervising Probation Officer William Oneto testified in front of the court. Mr. Oneto stated that Mr. Ruby reported to his probation appointments only once, on May 24 of this year, when his probation appointments began. Mr. Oneto then listed other probation appointments that Mr. Ruby failed to attend, on June 14 and in August, among others.

Mr. Oneto also noted Mr. Ruby’s fresh offenses, including a felony he had not yet heard of, to which the defense objected on the basis of the felony’s dismissal. Mr. Oneto stated that he was questioning whether “Mr. Ruby is amenable to probation,” stating his “one appearance in six months” and his charge of burglary point to the contrary.

Judge Richardson ended the session by rescheduling the resumption of the hearing for a later date.


Earlier Testimony in Stalking Trial

By Fabiha Zaman

On Tuesday afternoon, witness testimony for the trial of defendant Benjamin Prowell resumed. The witness on the stand was Prowell’s ex-girlfriend and the one who had originally filed a complaint about Prowell’s threatening behavior.

Representing Prowell was Deputy Public Defender Peter Borruso. After the morning break, he cross-examined the complaining witness. She is employed by the Odd Fellows in Davis, where she met Prowell who was a part-time maintenance worker there.

After the alleged victim had broken up with Prowell in January of 2016, he began sending what the victim perceived to be threatening emails. The victim even bought new blacked-out curtains in response to the fear she felt when things really escalated with Prowell.

The victim turned to her sister, who is on the Board of Directors for Empower Yolo, a community-based advocacy and educational entity that provides information and resources to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.  The victim’s sister forwarded this case to the Davis Police Department, and directed it to Detective Joshua Helton, an officer who had been working with Empower Yolo for some time.

During October 18, 2016, the victim and her sister met with Det. Helton. The victim told him how she felt about the situation and shared a binder filled with emails and messages from the defendant, including those to her friend and coworker and her current boyfriend, also a coworker.

Defense counsel asked if the victim had attempted to obtain an emergency protective order, to which she answered no. She also revealed that she did not know what it was at the time. She did say that she called a non-emergency number in Sacramento and asked to speak to an officer. She told the officer to whom she was directed that her ex-boyfriend was sending her multiple emails, but the officer just victim-blamed her and told her not to read the emails and to block Prowell. Since she did not find that advice helpful, she turned to her sister who then led her to Det. Helton.

Mr. Borruso asked the victim why she did not just block Prowell, and she revealed that the defendant had sent her multiple instructions on how to block him on email because he claimed he sent those messages when he was drunk and he had no control during that time. But the victim was not comfortable turning her back on something she saw as a threat.

Between October 2016 and January 2017, Prowell sent an increased number of emails, all of which the victim forwarded to Det. Helton. These emails were very angry and Prowell did not stop even after Det. Helton after contacted him. But once Prowell was arrested there were no more emails or personal contact.



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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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