Call For Federal Investigation into April 30 Killing of Luis Gutierrez –
At least 200 people and as many as 300 showed up on a Saturday night in Woodland with the County Fair in full swing. They boisterously but peacefully exercised their First Amendment rights to protest against their government.
According to the organizers, they seek to:
“Require the Yolo District Attorney to submit the Gutierrez case to a Federal agency. Close ties between District Attorney Jeff W. Reisig, Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto and Woodland Police Chief Carey Sullivan can only render this case as invalid. Interconnecting interest will make it impossible to charge an officer for the Gutierrez killing, if ever the need be. The Luis Gutierrez killing is the extreme culmination of a tendency by law enforcement to overreach their authority; the Gutierrez case comes as indisputable evidence of Law enforcement mismanagement in Yolo County.”
However, the call for a federal investigation was not the only item on the agenda for the evening. The mother of Jeffrey Lockwood issued a plea for justice for her son who was convicted of rape in March of this year after the first trial resulted in a jury deadlock with 9 favoring acquittal. The Vanguard covered this story back in February of 2008 when Mr. Lockwood was sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly stealing less than $100 in property from a friend’s home.
According to a March release from the Yolo County District Attorney’s office, Mr. Lockwood is facing 7 to 16 years in State Prison, must register as a sex offender, and now has two strikes on his record.
A variety of groups and citizens spoke on Saturday night calling both for justice for Luis Gutierrez as well as for several other cases.
Mrs. Lockwood argued on Saturday that her son has been wrongly convicted by an overly zealous prosecutor amid conflicting evidence and misleading and contradictory testimony from the alleged victim.
Meanwhile on Saturday, folks turned out in mass to support Ajay Dev who was sentenced in early August to 378 years after being convicted of repeatedly raping his adoptive daughter over a five year period.
The family and friends of the family continue to maintain his innocence and greatly question the legal proceedings which denied Mr. Dev, according to them, the ability to bring to bear exculpatory evidence including transcripts from a trial in Nepal involving the alleged victim and a clearer understanding of a pretext audiotape where the jury interpreted a single line as an admission of guilt.
Family members speaking yesterday, argued that Mr. Dev was wrongly convicted believing that the victim’s testimony was false, unreliable and had multiple points of contradiction. There was no physical evidence introduced at trial and the conviction relied completely according to the family on one line of a pretext call that the DA alleged was an admission of guilt by the defendant.
According to two blog posts from jurors, the phone call was crucial to the findings.
Juror Blog: “Yes, her testimony was difficult to swallow. If for her testimony alone, he would be a free man. The phone call is what put him where he is now. I am confident that we made the correct decision.”
Juror Blog: In the pretext call, Ajay admitted to having sex with the victim after she was 18. The exact quote is “You f$#*ed me after age 18, that means you gave consent”. The entire defense was that no sexual relationship occurred and that it was a story made up by the victim. With his admission, that defense was completely disregarded.
According to the family, the phone conversation recorded on behest of Davis Police Detective Mark Harmon, was partially in English and partially in Nepalese. They believe that that phone conversation was misinterpreted.
According to the family,
“The DA’s interpretation of what Ajay was saying to the accuser… was totally and completely false. Any misunderstanding is due to language and cultural issues which are often times lost in the translation process. Ajay was trying to explain to the accuser how our legal system works demonstrating that if a statement like this was made it could possibly ruin both her life and his. He was NOT admitting to rape.”
The family contends that the phone conversation lasted 50 minutes, during which the defendant denies the charges at least 27 times.
In the meantime, organizer Al Rojas continues to push for a new investigation into the killing of Luis Gutierrez. He argued that the Sheriff’s Department responded more quickly to the shooting of a dog than to the killing of Mr. Gutierrez.
At this point it is unclear where that process stands. A letter to the Woodland Police Department is again demanding a meeting with Woodland Police Chief Casey Sullivan. However, at this point the Woodland Police Department has forwarded the results of their investigation to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and the California Attorney General’s Office. There has been to date, no public release of the findings of that report nor to this point any notice of arrest or disciplinary action to the officers from the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office involved in the shooting.
As we mentioned yesterday, there seems to be a large and growing movement against the current district attorney who has been involved in an increasing number of high profile and controversial cases during his tenure. There is also a general sense of mismanagement of the personnel in his office leading to a high turnover of staff, a number of personnel actions, and a variety of disgruntled employees. The big question at this point is whether there will emerge a candidate with the ability to mobilize this dissent while still having the credibility and gravitas to lead the chief prosecutor’s office in Yolo County.
—David M. Greenwald reporting