Trial Begins in Concealed Weapon Case

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Yolo-Count-Court-Room-600by Justine Joya

On the morning of July 2, the case against David Whitfield began jury trial. Mr. Whitfield is being charged with carrying and concealing a dirk, or any weapon with a fixed sharpened blade capable of stabbing.

Before the jury was called into the courtroom to begin trial, both counsels and Judge Reed were disputing whether or not the defendant’s previous crimes of moral turpitude should be released to the jurors. Ultimately, Judge David Reed decided that the defendant’s crimes in 1990 and 1998 would not be presented to the jurors.

Following jury instructions, Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden dove right in to his opening statement. He began by discussing the events that lead to the detainment of Mr. Whitfield.

On June 18, 2013, two Sacramento officers, Carruth and Bowers, were dispatched to a local bus stop. Reportedly there was a man carrying a knife. Upon arriving, the officers noted that Mr. Whitfield appeared to be “talking aggressively” with another individual at the bus stop.

When the officers got out of their cars, Whitfield swiftly crossed the street in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Carruth and Bowers followed and demanded that he stop. Once the officers caught up to the defendant, they handcuffed him and conducted a search— they discovered a 13” kitchen knife and a claw hammer.

After Mr. Whitfield was detained, he told the officers two different narratives about why he was carrying the two items. At first he explained that he was assaulted by two unknown juveniles and disarmed them. In his second story, he was assaulted by the same juveniles, retrieved the objects from home, and returned back to the scene where he was assaulted to scare off his attackers.

Defense Attorney James Granucci portrayed the same incident, but with significant differences. He explained that his client was assaulted at a local Raley’s Store; his attackers believed Whitfield was gay because he was wearing a bow in his hair and pink nail polish on his fingernails.

When Whitfield went home and realized he forgot to buy cigarettes, he grabbed the hammer and knife for protection and returned back to the store. However, he never made it to the store. Instead, he arrived at a bus stop and engaged in a conversation with another civilian waiting for the bus. Granucci pointed out that what appeared to be  “aggressive” behavior and lack of cooperation with the officers’ orders was merely a display of Mr. Whitfield’s hearing disability.

Officer Josh Carruth was the first witness called by the people; he was the first officer to arrive at the scene on June 18, 2013.

DDA Linden played Carruth’s cop car video, which depicted the defendant standing in front of the bus stop, and then walking away from the police car once Carruth arrived. The officer recalled the nature of that night and said that it was Officer Bowers who arrested Whitfield, performed the search, and found the weapons.

Attorney Granucci’s cross-examination raised questions as to whether or not the weapons were concealed.

When Officer Carruth was asked if he personally saw a weapon on Mr. Whitfield, saw him fidgeting with his waist area, witnessed any signs of concealment, or even knew if the defendant was legally deaf, he replied no.

Finishing his examination, Granucci asked Carruth if he knew where the weapon was found. Carruth admitted that he did not see for himself where the weapon was found, but that Officer Bowers told him where it was.

Next on the stand was Officer Daniel Bowers. Bowers gave a description of the night of the arrest, similar to Officer Carruth’s, yet including more details about the discovery of the knife and hammer. According Mr. Bowers, the knife was placed directly below Whitfield’s bellybutton with the blade facing downwards. The hammer was located next to the knife and both were tucked in the waistband of his shorts.

When Granucci examined Bowers, conflict arose about the officer’s previous testimony during the preliminary hearing and the testimony he delivered yesterday morning. Read directly from the records of the preliminary hearing, it appeared that Officer Bowers stated that when he rolled the defendant over on the ground, after Carruth pushed him onto the floor, he saw the handle of the knife. However, his current testimony stated that he had to lift Whitfield’s shirt in order to see any part of the weapon.

Following a short morning break, DDA Linden called Yolo County Detective Kristine Fitzgerald to the stand. Ms. Fitzgerald presented a disc containing a conversation between the defendant and another individual. Before the court was able to play the recording, Judge Reed ordered the bailiff to re-collect the transcripts of the conversation from the jurors, and dismissed the jury from the courtroom. It appeared that the last two pages of the written transcripts possessed information regarding the defendant’s previous crimes. The information about Mr. Whitfield’s previous crimes was to be withheld from the jurors’ knowledge. After the last pages of the transcripts were disposed of, the court proceeded.

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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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