by Saghi Nojoomi
Judge David Rosenberg of the Yolo County Superior Court, in a preliminary hearing, granted the defense’s motion, allowing the court to scale down the defendant’s felony charge into a misdemeanor.
Defendant Michael Stanley is accused of felony theft of $10.62 of grocery items from the Woodland Food 4 Less. While the deputy district attorney urged that the defendant’s past thefts warrant a felony conviction, the defense argued that the defendant had no criminal intentions and only committed the crime while homeless and for his pregnant girlfriend.
Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson’s witness, Officer Ruben Esquibel, began his testimony by claiming that on May 14, 2014, he was dispatched to the Food 4 Less on 415 Pioneer Avenue. According to the officer, Food 4 Less had received such a large shipment that items had to be placed in a roofless closed enclosure behind the store.
When a loss prevention officer witnessed the defendant climbing over the enclosure and handing items to a woman nearby, he detained both individuals for theft before calling for additional support. Officer Esquibel claimed that the defendant took water, noodles, and soda pop from the closed enclosure, a total amount of $10.62. The witness correctly identified the defendant when asked.
During cross-examination, the defendant’s counsel questioned the witness about the statement he took on the night of the incident. According to the officer, the defendant explained in his statement that he and his pregnant wife were homeless and hungry on the night of the incident.
The two claim that they went to Food 4 Less, in an effort to gather thrown out food from backside dumpsters.
The defense continued their cross-examination by asking the witness to confirm whether or not the defendant had any money on him during the search. According to the witness, the defendant did not have any money with him during the search.
In regard to the motion, the defense argued that, while the people have the right to seek a felony conviction due to the defendant’s repetitive theft history, the circumstances of the crime should call for a misdemeanor.
The defense continued to claim that the defendant and his young family were out planning to seek food in dumpsters at one in the morning, with no initial intention to steal.
According to the defense, the special and human circumstances surrounding the case, along with the small amount of items taken and the small monetary value, constitute a misdemeanor and not a felony conviction.
In response to the defense’s appeal, DDA Johnson argued that, after glancing over the defendant’s past records, one can conclude that stealing is a “pattern with [the] defendant” because “he is a thief.” Johnson went on to explain that the defendant had once been convicted of Penal Code sections 148, 417, 459 and 653f, which represent resisting arrest, exhibiting a weapon, burglary and soliciting another to aid in a crime, respectively.
In addition to those, Ms. Johnson claimed that the defendant had several other misdemeanors from 2008 and 2009. According to Johnson, the defendant’s past should allow the People to seek a felony conviction.
When asked to respond, the defense claimed that the case was a “crime of opportunity” because his client never had the intention to steal until the opportunity presented itself. The special and human characteristics of the case involve a young family in desperate need with a spontaneous and tempting opportunity, the defense argued, and “some crimes are misdemeanors regardless of the past.”
After claiming that the defendant’s “conduct [was] criminal,” Judge Rosenberg granted the defense’s Penal Code 17(b) motion, using his discretion to reduce the alleged crime to a misdemeanor.
The case is set to continue in Department 8 of the Yolo County Superior Court.
People v. Jimenez Case Proceeded with Preliminary Hearing
By Justine Joya
Wednesday afternoon the case against Virginia Jimenez continued with a preliminary hearing in which two of the People’s witnesses testified.
Defendant Virginia Jimenez is being charged with a total of 6 counts, 4 felonies and 2 misdemeanors. The defendant was searched in her vehicle after two West Sacramento officers witnessed her driving in reverse in a parking lot. According to the officers, they found methamphetamine and MDMA in a Clorox container in her truck.
Serving as the first witness was Officer Alisha Slater. According to her testimony, she and Detective Anthony Herrera saw the witness driving a truck in reverse in a parking lot. When they signaled their emergency lights, the truck stopped and the two officers approached. Slater said that it was the defendant and three children in the vehicle.
While Slater dealt with the children in the car, Herrera conducted the search of Jimenez and the vehicle. Slater told the court that Herrera showed her the Clorox bottle that was found in the vehicle. When opened, the officers discovered that it was a “stash container” holding a digital scale, glass pipe, and four small bags of methamphetamine.
Detective Anthony Herrera’s testimony was brief, summing up Slater’s previous account of the arrest.
When both counsels concluded their examinations, Judge Rosenberg scheduled the next court date on September 11.