Gang Injunction Trial Sees Testimony from Officer and Evidence About Unnamed Defendants

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ganginjunction_catOn Thursday, the Gang Injunction Trial resumed and prompted more legal and philosophical questions as we saw West Sacramento Police Officer Michael Duggins testified about unnamed defendants and he named them.  This prompted several long discussions about the relevance of testimony about named individuals who are not listed as defendants on the case, the fairness and propriety of the process.

We will discuss this issue more fully towards the end of this article and likely into the future as it gets really to the heart of the procedural matters and the rights of individuals.

Officer Duggins spent nearly the entire day discussing primarily two incidents.  It is becoming more and more unclear as to how any kind of cohesive case can be presented here.  There seems to be no rational purpose for the order of the witnesses.  There is no cohesive case being laid out.  Judge Kathleen White did say that this is fairly common in large trials and the ends will need to be tied, but right now, there seems to be a focus on a lot of minutiae when the big picture probably should be established first.

Officer Duggins works with the West Sacramento Police Department’s Community Response team for the last three years of his five year tenure with the West Sacramento PD.  He describes this as a dedicated unit that focuses on specialty cases and in particular gang crimes (but not exclusively).

He describes an incident on July 25 involving a Robert Martinez who called the police and was shaken and upset according to Officer Duggins.  Mr. Martinez said that Rainey Martinez and Robert Sanchez knocked on his door, forced entry into his house, assaulted him and then went through and broke possessions of Robert Martinez. The took Mr. Martinez into the room, Rainy Martinez held him down while Mr. Sanchez went through the room. They demanded he pay them $80 before day was over.  They also threatened to shoot up his house, and have some Nortenos come shoot up his house everyday if he contacted police.

Deputy DA Jay Linden showed Officer Duggins a series of photos showing that Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Martinez had tattoos associated with the Norteno gang.

During cross-examination they made the point that police had arrested the two using traditional law enforcement methods.  They did not need the injunction.  While both of the individuals eventually plead guilty to the first degree robbery only but not to the gang enhancement.

Officer Duggins under cross-examination noted that Mr. Martinez sustained no injuries.  And while they threatened to have Nortenos shoot up Mr. Martinez’s home for snitching, no such shooting ever occurred. 

Officer Duggins appeared to use the term Broderick Boys and Nortenos interchangeably, but the defense was able to show that the term Broderick Boy never came up, neither of the defendants claims there were Broderick Boys, and even the written report always used the term Norteno rather than Broderick Boy.  The point here is that is not sufficient to show that these men are gang members, but they must be Broderick Boys.  This is clearly a connection that the prosecution will have to make.

The other point in this case is that while it is true they served prison time, one guy four years and the other eight years, neither of them plead to the gang enhancement.  So we do not have evidence that this crime occurred in furtherance of a criminal street gang.

Another interesting note is that Officer Duggins testified that in his experience no one would claim to be a gang member if they are not.  He did acknowledge that it is possible to be a wannabe or fronting, that is to act like a gang member but not participate in gang related crimes.  However, he noted that if they are trying to embrace the lifestyle at some point they will have to decide if that is the lifestyle they want.  However, he admitted they it is possible that they could decide not to become a full blown gang member.

Both Rainey Martinez and Robert Sanchez are named defendants.  The other case that was discussed was not among named defendants.  It was an incident involving Hilario Estrella, Joshua Osborne, Richard Dazo who plead eventually to an assault with a gang enhancement.

The question here is the propriety of naming individuals who are not named defendants, do not have counsel representing their interests.  DDA Linden told the defense that they would not be naming additional defendants during the trial.  But it seems clear that once the trial is over, any individuals that are named would be served and become subject to the injunction unless they could prove that they are not gang members.  This gets immediately to the heart of the issue.  Because this is a civil trial, the prosecution has much less burden of proof, defendants are not entitled to council and judgment can be imposed on them if they do not respond.

Much of this testimony by Officer Duggins focused on whether Mr. Estrella, who he interviewed for two hours and whose interview the defense has request a copy of, was a gang member.  Officer Duggins testified that Mr. Estrella was “boasting” about his fighting accomplishments although he admitted that he had no hard evidence to know whether what Mr. Estrella had told him was the truth and they were never able to verify a number of parts of his story.

Officer Duggins learned of a “code of conduct” among Nortenos.  That drug use, specifically meth and cocaine were strictly forbidden as a sign of weakness.  David Dratman, attorney for the defense, pointed out under cross examination that a number of Nortenos were drug users, including in West Sacramento and Yolo County, but he could not get the officer to acknowledge how many or estimate the size.

Officer Duggins testified that when Estrella was arrested he had a Mongolian haircut which he stated that he knew was associated with Norteno criminal street gang.  When we pulled the court file DDA Robin Johnson stated, “All three defendants are validated members of the Broderick Boys Criminal Street Gang and committed this crime in association—and in association with that criminal street gang and with the specific intent to benefit the Broderick Boys Criminal Street Gang.”

Officer Duggins testified Thursday that Mr. Estrella never told him there was a Broderick Boy gang, never named individual gang members, but he did say that he had “done work” or “put in work” for Nortenos.  During cross-examination it was pointed out that since Mr. Estrella was not truthful and unreliable during the interview, his statement of his participation in gang could be false. 

Officer Duggins at this point said that in his experience this is not the case, although recall that the other day Rick Gore in the Vanguard article suggested that there was a good deal of boasting so it is unclear what can be accepted as gospel.  Moreover as we know from Mr. Cedillo’s testimony, the fact that they plead to the gang enhancement might not be evidence that they are in a gang, they simply may have taken the best deal they could have.

The other question is that of linking “gang member” and Norteno to Broderick Boy. 

There are some legal issues that need to be addressed here including the legal issue of testimony from named individuals who are not defendants in this case.  That issue will be fought out next week and perhaps in court when the trial resumes the week of July 26.  Friday, there will be a determination as to whether two individuals can plead the fifth amendment and therefore not have to take the stand.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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5 thoughts on “Gang Injunction Trial Sees Testimony from Officer and Evidence About Unnamed Defendants”

  1. mistyd

    You’ve got to be kidding me? The DA is trying to say that our city is being over-ran by gang violence, and they can only come up with 2 incidents that really don’t prove anything except West Sac has some trouble makers? When is Judge White going to put an end to the nonsense?

  2. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “The other point in this case is that while it is true they served prison time, one guy four years and the other eight years, neither of them plead to the gang enhancement. So we do not have evidence that this crime occurred in furtherance of a criminal street gang.”

    Sure we do, evidence the crime occurred in furtherance of the Nortenos street gang (see statement below)…

    dmg: “They also threatened to shoot up his house, and have some Nortenos come shoot up his house everyday if he contacted police.”

    dmg: “Officer Duggins appeared to use the term Broderick Boys and Nortenos interchangeably, but the defense was able to show that the term Broderick Boy never came up, neither of the defendants claims there were Broderick Boys, and even the written report always used the term Norteno rather than Broderick Boy. The point here is that is not sufficient to show that these men are gang members, but they must be Broderick Boys. This is clearly a connection that the prosecution will have to make.”

    Frequently evidence seems confusing at first, and random at best. Anyone listening to a trial has to be patient, and NOT PASS JUDGMENT until they have heard the ENTIRE TRIAL, including the closing statements. Closing statements are important, bc their express purpose is to “connect the dots” of evidence into a cohesive theory of the case.

  3. jimt

    Mr. Greenwald,

    Do you know about how many days this hearing is scheduled for,
    and about how many more incidents/witnesses/victims are scheduled to be heard?

    Thanks

  4. David M. Greenwald

    I believe this trial was scheduled for two months, every other week, however, at this point they have only gotten through three witnesses, of 50 for the prosecution. So, I suspect it will continue four to six months at this rate.

    The incidents/ witnesses/ victims question is a good one, because they are right now set for 50 each side, but the prosecution is introducing a number of these unnamed defendants and has not articulated in advance who, so they have the defense right now scrambling, which is an issue they will be taking care of during the off-week.

    Elaine: I am not passing any judgment, other than I think the prosecution probably should have started with broader and more expert witnesses first and then moved down to specific incidents. But we will have to see how this all ties together. However, I do think, it is important to kind of look at the evidence presented each day and see where things stand as it will show where the prosecution has to go in the future.

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