Opening Statements Delivered in Hit and Run Case

Defendant Also Accused of Domestic Violence

By Jenean Docter

The opening statements for the case of Kareem Kento Washington were heard in Department 8 on the morning of Friday, March 9, 2018. Mr. Washington stands trial on six counts, for crimes allegedly committed at about 10 to 11PM, on the night of August 22, 2017.

The counts include five felonies. He faces one count of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, one count of infliction of corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon someone with whom he was in a dating relationship (with the enhancement of use of a deadly weapon), two counts of hit and run with injury, and one count of hit and run with death or permanent serious injury. Mr. Washington also faces a misdemeanor: hit and run with property damage. The district attorney’s office alleged these counts against him on January 16, 2018.

The representative for the People, Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian, proclaimed in his opening statements that the expression “actions speak louder than words” summarizes the case at hand. He narrated his understanding of the events that occurred on the night of August 22 to the jury.

Mr. Kian claimed that the events unfolded after Mr. Washington’s girlfriend, “GE”, rejected his proposal, exited his vehicle with her cell phone in hand, and stood near a stop sign. According to the People, Mr. Washington then “swiped the stop sign three times, then hits her.”

GE then flew onto the hood of his vehicle, and rolled off onto the pavement. A local fisherman overheard much of the unrest, and drove her to her mother’s home. Having incurred extensive bruising, she later visited the hospital.

“This is a case that began in Sacramento County, and ended in Yolo County,” Mr. Kian noted.

Mr. Kian stated that Mr. Washington sped away from the scene, taking Jefferson Boulevard northbound toward West Sacramento. His vehicle then “jumped the median” in the center of the road, and
collided head-on with a car filled with passengers returning from a River Cats game. The passengers, mostly older women, were all injured.

Moreover, Mr. Kian noted that one of the women involved, “Ms. B”, reports that she “bit off a portion of her tongue” during the accident, and consequently lost her ability to taste.

“Lives were changed on August 22, 2017, and it was Mr. Washington’s actions that changed them,” Mr. Kian stated.

Mr. Kian also informed the jury that parts of Mr. Washington’s car have been found near the stop sign, and that he will present them with photographs of the cars involved in the case.

Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt represented the accused. He asserted that, with regard to the events that unfolded in Sacramento County, there are two fundamental issues: whether or not Mr. Washington intentionally hit GE, and whether or not he left the scene without leaving the car, and with a duty to render aid.

“You’ll hear that he didn’t run her over,” Mr. Van Zandt stated to the jury.

Additionally, Van Zandt cited two more “fundamental issues” central to the events that occurred in West Sacramento. First, did Mr. Washington truly leave the scene? Since he was found near the scene, he doesn’t seem to have fled—so, what was he doing? Also, did Ms. B—an eighty-seven-year-old woman at the time her vehicle was struck by that of Mr. Washington—suffer a serious bodily injury, and not just regular injuries incurred as a result of vehicular accidents?

Mr. Van Zandt shed disbelief on the “theory that she [Ms. B] bit part of her tongue off” and lost taste.” “Is there physical or medical evidence?” he inquired. Van Zandt noted that it will be imperative to investigate when she first reported this alleged injury.

“There is no question that Mr. Washington caused the accident, but that is not the issue here,” Mr. Van Zandt noted. Washington faces hit-and-run charges because the People allege that he left the scene after the events with his girlfriend and the collision with the other vehicle. “How far away did he walk, and why?” he asked the jury.

Additionally, Mr. Van Zandt noted that the argument that occurred in Mr. Washington’s vehicle between himself and his girlfriend was not a minor scuff, but an argument about breaking up their relationship.

“He’s under that stress,” Mr. Van Zandt emphasized. “You might get a sample of what was going through his mind [through the case proceedings],” he informed the jury.

Judge David W. Reed presided over the start of the trial.

Witness testimony began on Friday morning, and will continue throughout the afternoon.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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