One Case Moves to Trial While A Defender Will Represent Himself in Another Trial

yolo_county_courthouseInmate Waives His Right to a Public Defender and Represents Himself

By Justine Joya

The trial setting conference for the case against Joshua Gilchrist took place on the morning of July 28. Serving for the people is Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McHugh, and representing the defendant is the defendant himself.

During a morning break the defendant, who is currently in custody, was discussing the violation of his right to bear arms with DDA McHugh. The defendant went on to say that he purchased a black powder gun legally and yet he is currently detained. After expressing conflicting beliefs, McHugh concluded that they both would have to “agree to disagree.”

In the presence of Judge Richardson, it was revealed that Gilchrist had been convicted of prior felony charges.

Judge Richardson repeatedly urged Gilchrist to seek aid from a public defender, but Gilchrist’s distrust of the legal system would not allow him. When questioned why he did not trust the public defenders, Gilchrist expressed that he felt he was being “terrorized.”

Before concluding the conference, Gilchrist’s request for reducing bail was denied, and trial was set to begin October 6 at 8am.

Preliminary Results as Man Held to Answer on Domestic Violence Charges

by Patrick Shum

On July 29, the preliminary hearing in a domestic violence case, People v. Louie Gomez, concluded when Judge David Rosenberg decided that the district attorney’s office had presented sufficient evidence on eight counts against defendant Louie Gomez, the most serious of which was the allegation of corporal injury on a cohabitant. The DA had charged Gomez with nine counts, one of which was dismissed in the hearing. The remaining counts will go to trial.

In court today, Steven Sabbadini represented Louie Gomez in cross-examining Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Stevens, while Deanna Hays represented the People. The preliminary hearing had originally begun on June 30 and was continued today. Sabbadini brought up the statements from the previous part of the preliminary hearing to clarify some matters. First, Stevens repeated the victim’s testimony, saying the victim told him that Gomez first hit her on her head, then pulled out her hair, and then hit her head again with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy. On cross-examination, the officer clarified that, besides the bruise on her forehead, he saw that the victim also had a bump on her head and a missing patch of hair. Stevens explained that he did not take a picture of the bump because it was obscured by hair, making a photograph pointless.

Sabbadini followed this with a question about whether the witness tried to call 911. Stevens explained that the victim could not be sure her call went through. Sabbadini then focused on why: mainly, whether the phone had been ripped off of the wall. The deputy explained that he personally inspected the phone and could not hear a tone. There was no 911 call in the record, so Stevens explained that the victim must not have completed the call.

The next issue was the proof that the victim was hit by closed fists. Sabbadini pointed to the People’s exhibits, and he asked about the proof. Stevens explained that the victim had red marks on her stomach. Sabbadini asked if they could be scratches, but the officer said that the proof of injury was just red marks, though he did expect them to be wider. Stevens explained that another officer, Deputy Robin Gonzalez, had taken the photos. Stevens had only seen the marks briefly when the victim showed them to him.

The next question was whether the defendant had possessed a firearm. The record showed that the victim said she saw a revolver. Sabbadini’s question was how the victim knew it was a revolver. The officer explained that the victim saw a revolver in its holster. Sabbadini raised an objection that the officer was being non-responsive, as he only said the victim saw the revolver in its holster, without answering whether she saw a revolver. The implication was whether the victim could have seen an empty holster, though the victim apparently didn’t, because she told Stevens she heard Gomez activate the electronic gun safe and then she saw the gun in its holster.

Regarding her injuries, Stevens explained that the victim did not seek medical attention immediately, but when he checked up on her injuries, he did see discoloration. That was the last of the questions about the victim.

Next, Sabbadini asked about how Gomez had driven away and gone to a motel room. By chance, Deputy Stevens was called to that motel, where he and another officer, Sergeant Matthew Davis, arrested Gomez. There was a woman present with Gomez. While Gomez was arrested, the police gained the woman’s consent to search her purse, where they found syringes for liquid methamphetamine. Stevens testified that he saw track marks on the woman’s arm but didn’t check Gomez for the same. Sgt. Davis’ role was not elaborated but he was also involved in the arrest and questioning.

Stevens later checked Gomez’s car and found over a gram of methamphetamine, which Gomez denied was his. Stevens found no other drug paraphernalia, and said the injection paraphernalia belonged only to the woman. He did not administer any tests on Gomez for controlled substances.

As the cross-examination revealed, Stevens and Gonzalez talked at this point as Gomez tried to explain his side of the story. Gomez said the victim’s injuries were incurred from remodeling their house, and that he had taken the two guns (in the previous part of the preliminary hearing, the victim explained that Gomez had taken two rifles with him when he drove away) away to hide them. Gomez’s father had picked the the rifles up at some point. Gomez at this point denied showing guns or threatening the victim.

The next issue was whether Gomez threatened the victim. The victim reported voicemails from a blocked number where she heard Gomez’s voice. This was before Gomez received the restraining order. The victim also reported getting calls from the detention facility where Gomez was held, but hung up when she realized that she was getting called from a detention facility. She did not speak to Gomez.

Sabbadini finished his cross-examination and Hays continued her direct examination. The question was about who wanted to end the relationship. Gomez said he was the one, but under questioning, Stevens said Gomez went to his father, asking his father to go to the victim and talk. However, the father refused because the victim was taking care of his father. There was some confusion at first, possibly because Louie Gomez’s father is also named Louie Gomez, about whether the victim was taking care of the defendant’s great-grandfather or grandfather. However, Stevens explained the victim was taking care of the defendant’s grandfather. On direct examination, Hays also clarified that the amount of meth that Gomez had, 1.5 grams, was enough to be used.

After Hays finished her questions, Sabbadini asked whether Stevens looked at the guns. Stevens said he just saw rifles, missing bolts, and did not see any ammunition.

After the testimony of Dep. Stevens, Sabbadini asked if the court could reduce the charges, saying the victim’s injuries were not that severe and that the defendant only temporarily was in possession of drugs. He also asked whether the defendant could be charged with vandalism, referring to the testimony from the first part of the preliminary hearing, where Stevens reported seeing only that the tires of the victim’s car were flat. Sabbadini said it would not be vandalism if the defendant had only let the air out of the tires. Hays rejected reducing the charges, saying that the defendant had beaten the victim with a stick and that the defendant was pregnant at the time.

After hearing the witnesses and seeing the exhibit, Judge Rosenberg ruled that the DA’s office had presented sufficient evidence against Louie Gomez to go to trial, and would not reduce the charges, with the sole exception of dismissing the misdemeanor vandalism charge. The main part of the domestic violence case would go to trial.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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