by Alexandra Rose
On the morning of Monday April 22, 2013, under Judge Timothy L. Fall in Department 2 of the Yolo County Superior Court, the case of James Mings was called for the last time before next week’s jury trial.
James Mings pled “not guilty” to murdering Davis resident Kevin Gerard Seery, a 42-year-old man suffering from pancreatitis and several other illnesses. Mr. Mings claimed that Mr. Seery had wanted to die and asked Mr. Mings to kill him.
Mr. Mings and his friend were the first individuals to report the death of Mr. Seery on the eve of October 6, 2011. Mr. Mings has been in custody since his arrest in 2011.
Unfortunately, the case has seen great delays since its introduction in February. When Deputy District Attorney Martha Holzapfel fell ill, the case was dismissed, even after the jury had been selected and the trial was ready to begin. Miss Holzapfel re-filed the case on March 4.
This morning, Defense Attorney Dan Hutchinson and Deputy District Attorney Martha Holzapfel addressed the court and said that they were ready to begin the trial. The basis of this morning’s session was to discuss the defense’s motion to authorize a questionnaire.
The People decided to respectfully object to the motion on the grounds that the 3-part questionnaire would lessen or eliminate the time allocated for oral questioning, which would make it difficult to see how potential jurors feel about the sensitive topics involved in this case beyond general statistics. Miss Holzapfel argued that the ability of the potential jurors to communicate and convey emotion is limited when utilizing a questionnaire.
The defense responded by referring to the helpfulness of the questionnaire when the jury was selected for the case before it was dismissed and re-filed. Mr. Hutchinson also mentioned the increasingly important issue of the media in this case – the case of James Mings garnered more media attention this week, as it was the last murder to occur before the double homicide in Davis last week.
The Honorable Timothy L. Fall denied the defense’s motion to authorize a questionnaire on the basis that oral questioning would satisfy due process and make it easier for the attorneys to see how the potential jurors convey emotion and approach the sensitive topics involved in this case.
The case’s 11-day trial is due to start next Monday at 9:00am in Department 2 under Judge Timothy L. Fall. Jury selection is set to begin mid-morning. The timeline is as follows: April 29-May 3; May 6-8; May 10; and May 13-end.
Gang Trial Set For December
by Antoinnette Borbon
Once again, the alleged gang defendants were filed into the courtroom of Judge Stephen Mock for a hearing to see if both parties can agree on a date for the first few defendants. The court has had to divide the defendants due to the number of defendants in this case.
One of the attorneys requested a continuance for his client, stating he needed more time to file what is called a “Pitchess motion,” a look into an officer’s background. Attorney Fidel Martinez, for defendant Christopher Castro, filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the search warrant issued by YONET’s Alicia Slater.
Judge Mock read over the search warrant issued by Judge Timothy Fall and stated there was a lack of sufficient evidence for the warrant. Judge Fall was presented with the search warrant and signed it. YONET’s Agent Alicia Slater listed 16 addresses, 5 of them being vehicles of the defendants to be searched.
Agent Slater took the stand briefly to state her occupation and who reviewed her search warrant before taking it to Judge Fall. She stated both Matson and Commander Sevillo reviewed the search warrant. Agent Slater stated she took part in the surveillance of alleged gang members’ activity before finding probable cause to submit a search warrant to her superiors. Slater will be back to testify in the preliminary examination on June 12, 2013.
Defense attorney James Walker will be cross-examining testimony, along with defense attorney Cane, in regard to the case at 11 am in Judge Mock’s courtroom.
Standing in for conflict attorney Jeff Raven was Rod Beede. Mr. Raven is representing defendant Andrew Vandyke, one of the alleged gang members.
Both parties are proposing to begin one of two trials in December but there may be more motions filed before said time, causing another continuance.
Families of certain defendants are claiming they have been targeted as being gang members simply by their criminal past and prior affiliation with gangs in the past.
A defendant’s mother stated, “We can no longer even go to the park without law enforcement thinking we are gathering there for some sort of gang related activity. Our families are low-income families, Hispanic, who have resided in the area of Broderick for years and been named gang members for living in this area.”
She stated there are several families who have all grown up together and have had some problems with the law but asserts none of it has to do with the alleged “gang activity, not anymore.”
Eleven defendants, some in custody, others out of custody, will be tried in the state’s case.