Closing Statements Delivered in Co-Defendant CVS Burglary Case

By Danielle Eden C. Silva

Both sides of counsel offered their conclusions in the case against Andrew Joseph Ray and Phillip Harold Kempton. The Honorable David Rosenberg presided. Deputy Public Defender Dave Muller represented Mr. Ray and Attorney Ava Landers represented Mr. Kempton. Attorney Mike Vromen represented the People.

Mr. Vromen began the closing statements by stating the facts of the case. Two people had thrown rocks through a window. They broke into a pharmacy and stole drugs. After stealing the drugs, the two individuals exited in different directions – one through the back door and one through the front door.

On that night, a Honda Civic was driven which belonged to Mr. Ray. The driver of that vehicle drove recklessly and crashed into a speed limit sign, still going. He did not stop for law enforcement.

Mr. Vromen concluded that the evidence pointed to the defendants. He instructed the court that the charge specifically is entering a closed commercial building with intent to commit theft. The crime did occur, he shared, referencing a video where heavily covered individuals walked in. The evidence confirms that the defendants were the individuals that went in and out of the store that night, starting from Mr. Ray’s CVS labels in his car and Mr. Kempton’s attire.

Mr. Kempton’s attire consisted of a grey hooded sweatshirt and dark blue jeans with faded patches. Vroman stated that one of the burglars also had this attire, as caught on video. He concluded that when Mr. Kempton, having left through the back of the CVS store and seen on the sidewalk by police, continued walking away from the scene despite the officer flashing a light at him. In addition, Mr. Kempton’s DNA was on a white t-shirt and gloves found near the scene. The gloves apparently had come from a woman that Kempton also knew.

Mr. Kempton’s phone was also examined, revealing that he had been told over instant messaging that someone needed “narcos” with several subsequent google searches of CVS pharmacies’ locations and interiors.

The other individual who robbed the store was a six-foot tall man with a thin build, very similar to Mr. Ray’s build. Mr. Ray had told the police his car was stolen that night, with his keys, phone, and wallet. Ray was so certain about the date his car was stolen, until he noted that period of time would be after the burglary. Additionally, one of the defendants attempted to hide the name of his other girlfriend. The prosecution requested the defendants be considered guilty of the crime.

Mr. Muller came to the stand next, giving his presentation on the duty of the jury and how long the decision will be affecting them. He pointed out that their decisions would actually be in effect longer than marriage. Muller addressed the prosecution’s claims as speculation, conjecture, and an arrogant statement of the evidence. He began by stating that the investigating officer had not done his job thoroughly enough, ignoring evidence that they should have explored more. Attorney Muller also noted the phone in the car likely was used by Mr. Ray to text his girlfriend, saying that he missed her and he was all right at 2 am, a time when all the bars are closed. Additionally, Mr. Ray had been interviewed by three police at once, and Mr. Muller noted the evidence to be all circumstantial.

Mr. Ray’s counsel’s statement closed by comparing the DNA in the glove compartment to a sample of DNA from Mr. Ray. Attorney Muller presented a results sheet that showed the non-matching alleles in the sample and the gloves.

Ms. Landers spoke next, on behalf of Mr. Kempton, agreeing with Mr. Muller that all the information that had been given in court is circumstantial evidence. In the case of Mr. Kempton walking off, the car lights had been shining on him. The police car attached to those headlights did not turn on the police lights, leaving Kempton to consider he was being followed by a suspicious vehicle early that morning. This would explain his attempt to hide and his sweatiness.

Attire, however, stood as a large part of Ms. Landers’ argument. The lighting of the video could not directly pick out the colors and textures of the burglars’ attires. Most importantly, the investigating officer did not wear gloves as he was working with the evidence. Landers proposed the idea that Mr. Kempton, who had been patted down and moved between cars and hands the night of his arrest, had left DNA on the investigating officer who touched the gloves. In the case of the clothes that Kempton was wearing that night, he had no small shards of glass in his clothing.

Ms. Landers noted that after the alarm in the CVS went off, Mr. Kempton was the first one for the investigating officer to spot and all investigation stopped there. In the case of searching the Woodland pharmacies, no explanation stands for why they were searched.

She finished her closing statement by sharing that there was a crime, but reasonable doubts were present.

In his rebuttal, Mr. Vromen began by saying that Mr. Ray leaving his belongings behind in the car may appear improbable but could have happened. Most importantly, Mr. Ray had access to his car during the time it was “stolen,” as noted by the text to his girlfriend. The phones were not only password-protected, the investigators needed to take the phones apart to access all the information on them. Mr. Vromen found it improbable someone else texted Mr. Ray’s girlfriend.

Mr. Kempton, on the other hand, did have attire similar to one of the burglars, which could be clearly seen in the security camera footage. He noted a green crate to show the color and quality of the video.

Mr. Vromen directed the attention of the court to a PowerPoint where he noted that the jury should reject unreasonable conclusions during deliberation. He listed several items for each defendant that needed to be proven correct in order for the burglary to have occurred without their involvement. These coincidences stood as unreasonable, simply because of the number of them needed for the story to go as it did. He requested the jury find the defendants guilty on all counts.

Following closing statements, the jury was excused for deliberation.


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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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