By Taite Trautwein
The preliminary hearing of Michael Marlon Cyr took place on Monday afternoon in regard to the theft of an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) that took place on October 6, 2017. The vehicle belonged to the Shannon Ranches vineyards and winery in Lake County and was recovered from Cyr’s place of residence on November 22.
The first witness called by Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden of the prosecution was Detective Jeremy Hembree, an employee of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department assigned to their marijuana task force.
Hembree described being drawn to Cyr’s residence on November 22 after learning that the defendant had been seen associating with a wanted theft suspect. Hembree and his partner, Detective Thomas Hayes, were aiding Colusa County sheriffs in locating this individual.
According to Hembree’s testimony, he and Hayes learned upon arriving at the Cyr residence that the defendant was on house arrest, meaning he was subject to search. Upon searching Cyr’s garage, they
located the ATV in question. Hembree stated the ATV stood out to them due to the fact that the original suspect they were pursuing had been linked to multiple ATV thefts.
After running the serial number of the ATV, a 2016 Honda Rancher, the detectives learned it was, in fact, reported stolen. Hembree reported that the vehicle was visibly damaged, with a dented fender, cracked racks and bent handle bars. He also described patches of paint being placed over the original coloring of the ATV.
Hembree recounted an interview he had with the defendant, who claimed the ATV was dropped off by a friend a few weeks prior to the arrival of the officers. When Hembree asked Cyr if the ATV was stolen, he responded that “it probably was,” according to the detective’s testimony.
Cyr reportedly claimed that the individual who dropped off the ATV was a known thief.
Hembree also stated that Cyr additionally claimed he had inflicted damage to the vehicle by rolling it while he was out for a ride.
Upon further search of the house, Hembree located the keys to the ATV on a key ring that belonged to Cyr.
Cyr was arrested following the search of the house. Hembree claimed the defendant was cooperative up until his phone was taken from him, at which point he became upset and demanded the officers produce a warrant if they wanted to search it.
Hembree claimed they had no intention of searching it and were simply trying to turn it off.
The ATV was then turned back over to a representative of Shannon Ranches, who testified later in the proceedings.
During cross-examination by Steven Sabbadini, Cyr’s attorney, Hembree revealed the initial theft suspect the officers were looking for was not located the day the defendant was arrested.
Hembree also revealed that no photos were taken of the vehicle before it was returned, nor was it examined for fingerprints. Furthermore, he claimed that no attempts were made to reach the individual the defendant claimed dropped off the vehicle at his property.
Hembree also revealed he did not record the interview he had with Cyr. When pressed by Sabbadini as to why, the detective stated, “I just didn’t start it fast enough. I had the ability to do it but I didn’t.”
The second witness of the proceedings was the vineyard manager for Shannon Ranches, who reported the vehicle as stolen on October 6.
The witness described the vehicle as “almost brand new” at the time of the theft and estimated its worth at around $6,000.
Upon questioning from Sabbadini, the witness revealed the ATV was currently undergoing repairs which included $2,000 worth of new parts.
He also claimed the ATV looked like it “fell off a truck,” describing heavy body damage, as well as a broken suspension and steering column.
The vineyard manager also claimed no one was present to witness the actual theft.
The hearing ended with brief testimony from Detective Hayes, who investigated the incident with Hembree. Hayes is a member of the rural crimes division.
Hayes reported finding a picture on Cyr’s Facebook page of an ATV he described as “similar” to the one located on November 22. However, in cross-examination the detective revealed that Cyr was not in the picture, and there was a dog present that was not present on the Cyr residence when it was searched.
Sabbadini once again pressed this detective as to the reason why no pictures were taken. When asked if it was common practice for photos to be taken when stolen property is recovered, Hayes responded, “In certain cases, maybe,” but also admitted it was more common than not.
After hearing all three witnesses, Judge Dan Maguire concluded there was sufficient evidence of value, as well as knowledge that the vehicle was stolen, to proceed to trial.
However, Mr. Sabbadini did appeal to the judge to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. The defense attorney revealed that the defendant is only 23 and lives on his family’s walnut farm as evidence for the felony charge being a harsh punishment.
However, the prosecution responded by pointing out the defendant has six prior misdemeanor convictions in the past three years.
Judge Maguire did concede that this is “not the world’s most serious offense,” but also stated that, due to Cyr being on house arrest at the time of the arrest, he would not reduce the charges.
However, the judgment was not given with prejudice, which gives Sabbadini the option to argue his point once again in front of Judge Beronio, who will be handling this case in the future.
It was also revealed that Linden has offered a plea deal to the defendant which would see him only get probation, however Sabbadini claims that offer will not be entertained unless the charges are reduced to a misdemeanor.