By Taite Trautwein
Friday afternoon saw the reveal of details surrounding an October altercation after a corner store clerk had $10,000 stolen from him. Defendants Armondo Louis Abilez and Jessica Marie Andrade are charged with grand theft following their alleged stealing of the clerk’s lunch pail from his unlocked car.
The victim in this case was the first witness called to the stand during the preliminary hearing. During questioning by the prosecution, he described opening the 76 gas station in West Sacramento early in the morning by loading merchandise from his truck into the store. After becoming distracted by customers, the victim stated, he forgot to bring his lunch pail inside the store.
Shortly after opening, the victim claimed Jessica Andrade entered the store asking both him and other customers for a cigarette. After Andrade was denied, the witness claimed he saw her leaving the store’s parking lot with his lunch pail in hand. Within his pail was $10,000 worth of hundred dollar bills, tucked away in napkins.
The store clerk alleged that he chased after Ms. Andrade in his truck, pulling in front of her a few blocks from the store. When he reached her, she had been joined by her co-defendant, Armando Abilez, who, the witness claimed, was holding the contents of his lunch box, excluding the cash.
The witness claimed that upon confrontation, Mr. Abilez began shouting, “She don’t have your money.” According to the clerk, Ms. Andrade attempted to flee, which compelled him to grab her wrist. Abilez responded by grabbing the clerk around the waist and attempting to drag him away, according to testimony.
The witness claimed he was able to take out his phone and call 911, which resulted in Abilez leaving the scene. The witness claimed the money was returned to him by the responding officers, while his discarded lunch pail was discovered by a customer and returned to him as well.
The second witness of the afternoon was Officer Samuel Gee of the West Sacramento Police Department, who was the first officer on scene on the morning of the incident. Gee claimed when he arrived on the scene, the store clerk was holding Ms. Andrade by the wrist on the sidewalk as she struggled to get free.
Gee immediately detained Andrade, and he claimed that when he approached her she shouted, “I swear to God on everybody I got all their money.”
Gee also alleged that after, she was detained, Andrade began to scream and kick the seats of his patrol car, shouting, “I don’t want to go to jail.”
During cross-examination from Defense Attorney Jeffrey Raven and Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson, the officer described first making contact with Mr. Abilez after the defendant approached Andrade in the patrol car. When Abilez was approached by officers, Gee claimed he self-identified himself.
When searched by the officer, Gee claimed to have found a glass methamphetamine pipe in the pocket of Abilez.
The third and final witness of the hearing was Officer Nicholas Lewis, also a patrol officer from the West Sacramento Police Department. Lewis responded to the scene with Officer Gee on the morning of the incident.
Lewis claimed that he discovered the $10,000 in a jacket that he alleged belonged to Ms. Andrade. Under questioning from Mr. Raven, Lewis described the jacket as one he would typically associate with a male, due to its size and style.
Lewis also claimed that the original dispatch call he received was a citizen report of a man attacking a woman, and he also spoke of later interviewing a witness who claimed to have seen the store clerk holding Andrade by the hair.
Officer Lewis also claimed to have had multiple past experiences with Andrade, describing her as a known transient.
After the witness testimony was completed, the attorneys were able to give their arguments to the court.
Mr. Raven, who represents Ms. Andrade, argued that the charge of grand theft was excessive, as there was no way his client would have known the lunch pail contained $10,000, and he claimed that the charge should be reduced to misdemeanor petty theft.
Mr. Johansson, the representative of Mr. Abilez, claimed there was no evidence his client had committed any form of theft, and could simply have been coming to the aid of Andrade with no knowledge of the circumstances.
The prosecution responded to this claim by pointing out that the store clerk claimed to have seen Abilez holding the food contained in the lunch pail, indicating he was involved in the theft in some way.
When all was said and done, the court determined there was sufficient evidence of reasonable cause for a trial to take place. The two defendants will report back to the Yolo County Superior Court on December 14, 2017, for arraignment.