Cell Phone Contents Verified for Drug Case

By Danielle Eden C. Silva

The trial for Mr. Apondo White resumed in Department 13 with Judge Paul K. Richardson presiding. Mr. White is charged with several counts regarding the transportation and intended sale of cocaine and heroin while armed.

On June 16, 2016, Mr. White and a juvenile had been picked up in Stockton and driven to West Sacramento by a friend. As they arrived in West Sacramento, Mr. White and the juvenile climbed out of the car and the driver used the restroom before the drive back. The driver ended up starting the drive back with Mr. White and the juvenile back in the vehicle, only to be stopped by authorities in a high-risk stop at gunpoint. The car was searched, revealing a handgun the juvenile kicked under the front passenger seat and several bags of heroin and cocaine in the glove compartment. All three were arrested, with the juvenile and Mr. White charged.

Prior to the appearance of the jury, Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays, representing the People, shared that one of their witnesses could not appear in court due to intense illness. She stated she would finish her case tomorrow before resting.

Upon the entry of the jury, Detective Andrea King came to the stand. Detective King shared she is a detective with West Sacramento and has worked as a sworn peace officer for six years. Her job includes writing search warrants and interviewing people.

Det. King had been assigned to follow up on Mr. White’s case. A search warrant was to be filed in order to analyze the contents of four phones from the defendant, the driver, and the juvenile arrested on June 16, 2016. To identify the owners of the phones, Detective King relied on the various photos. She stated the owner of a phone usually is in most of the pictures on his/her phone.

Detective King shared she extracted phone calls, texts, and photos from the phone. The first phone, a Motorola, was identified as Mr. White’s cell, as 80 to 90 percent of the pictures were of him. Six of the pictures were shown to the officer and then displayed to the court. Four of those photos had a variety of money in different amounts, two others showed a firearm, and Mr. White appeared in several of the pictures.

During cross-examination, Detective King noted she was not sure when, during the confrontation on June 16, 2016, the phones were confiscated. She does know that there were three arrests and four phones: one phone for Mr. White, one phone for the driver, and two for the juvenile. Conflict Counsel Attorney J. Toney pointed out that an expert testimony was all opinion, and paused before having a discussion at sidebar.

Following the cross-examination, Detective King was excused in front of the jury and asked to wait to be called on again. The jury was to be adjourned early due to scheduling errors, the absent officer being the primary cause. Before the jury was dismissed, the court shared several stipulations. Both attorneys agreed the 11 brown tar-like bags prepared for sale were heroin, the bag of white powdery substance was cocaine, and Mr. White was in range of reaching the firearm. Following these stipulations, the jury was adjourned.

Detective King was brought back in outside of the presence of the jury for further questioning by Mr. Toney. He asked about the text messages on one of the juvenile’s phones. She had discovered Facebook messages in relation to marijuana sales. In one conversation, in particular, one party mentioned the selling of marijuana and needing cash.

Attorney Toney argued that the juvenile as a minor should not have legal access to for-sale drugs and this evidence should not be admitted under the argument of probative evidence. He believed the juvenile had not been charged, which Ms. Hays corrected, stating that he had been charged with counts similar to those of Mr. White, including the possession of a firearm.

Ms. Hays argued that willingly selling drugs and having the intent to distribute were present through these Facebook conversations. Mr. Toney argued that if the juvenile were brought to speak on this, the statement would not be a statement of penal interest and he could possibly plead the Fifth Amendment. Ms. Hays shared that was a declaration of intent and the prosecution can bring in character evidence as to the defendant’s propensity to commit such a crime.

While a misdemeanor now, Ms. Hays also established that the selling of marijuana was a felony at the time of the Facebook messages. She explained the juvenile was charged similar to the defendant, with the gun possession as a felony.

The court found the information of the Facebook messages probative enough to be included, and Detective King was asked to return to the stand the next morning.

Following this, the court reviewed the jury instructions. During this review, Mr. White revealed he would not be testifying in his defense, which is his right.

The trial would resume on Friday morning at 8:30 am.


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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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