Closing Arguments in Davis Motorcycle Theft Case

By Jackie Snyder

The Christopher Jones trial concluded February 11, 2015, as both the defense attorney, Christopher Henderson, and the deputy district attorney, Deanna Hays, made their separate closing arguments. The jury was then dismissed and escorted to a private location to begin deliberations.

Mr. Henderson began his closing arguments by thanking the women and men of the jury for their time. After Mr. Henderson offered his gratitude to the jurors, he brought up the topic of race. Mr. Henderson acknowledged race to be a sensitive topic and, although sometimes uncomfortable to discuss, he felt it was an important issue that should be brought up before the conclusion of the trial.

Mr. Henderson offered his own experience with race and racism. He stated he grew up in a family which embraced different cultures and encouraged him to not judge individuals by the color of their skin but by their character.

Even though this was true of his upbringing, he admitted there were times in his life where even he may have practiced racism subconsciously. Mr. Henderson recalled an incident where his biases were set into motion without his even realizing it.

Mr. Henderson stated that, years ago, he went to return a video he had previously rented. The video store would charge customers a one dollar fee if the video was returned without being rewound first. Apparently a malfunction with his VHS occurred and he was not able to rewind the video he rented.

He explained this to a store employee, and the employee directed him to the location of the store manager. Mr. Henderson encountered two men standing together, one white and the other black. He then turned to the white man, automatically assuming he was the manager.

When Mr. Henderson realized he was wrong, it became obvious (to himself), that even he could be biased when it came to race. Mr. Henderson’s point was that, although individuals may not consciously realize they are having preconceived notions of others based on race, they very well may be making decisions based on the color of one’s skin, subconsciously.

This story may have been beneficial to share with the jury to help ensure they exercise caution while deliberating.

Mr. Henderson, while still on the topic of race, posed a question to the jurors. If the defendant had been a white male that day outside the taqueria, would the SAFE (Special Assignment Focus Enforcement) team have made such an effort to take notice of the defendant’s vehicle license plate?

Mr. Henderson then went on to talk about Detective Bellamy, a member of the SAFE team, who had testified during the evidence portion of the trial. Bellamy had referred to the SAFE team as being proactive.

Mr. Henderson stated that the SAFE team’s proactive approach to law had perhaps translated into an aggressive tactic, which may have aided in the SAFE team’s discovery of something other than items like a motorcycle helmet, motorcycle jacket or vehicle bill of sale, while executing a search warrant at the defendant’s home.

Mr. Henderson questioned the SAFE team’s motivation for obtaining a search warrant for the defendant’s home, and felt that race may have been a factor. Mr. Henderson stated that, if this were the case, the defendant was unfairly targeted and should not be found guilty of the charges brought against him.

Ms. Hays’ closing argument was brief. She addressed Mr. Henderson’s comments on race and agreed race should not come into play while making any decisions on the outcome of the case.

Ms. Hays then stated that individuals do not have the ability to choose the color of their skin, however they do have the ability to choose their conduct. She explained that the defendant made the choice to drive around on a stolen vehicle, to switch out the vehicle’s license plate to evade police detection, and to possess an assault weapon.

She claimed that the SAFE team made the correct decision to carry out a search warrant and search for items such as the motorcycle jacket and the vehicle’s bill of sale. These items, she stated, based on their (SAFE team’s) experience, were necessary in proving the defendant’s innocence or guilt.

Ms. Hays concluded her closing argument by admitting that she does carry the burden of proof in the case and in order to reach a guilty verdict, the jury must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She stated the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” may be the highest possible standard of proof, but it is possible to meet the standard and this standard is met everyday.

Ms. Hays told the jury that she believed she had proved the defendant to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that it was her hope that the jury would find the defendant guilty. The jury was excused and instructed to begin the deliberating process.

Judge McAdams informed the jury that if they had not reached a verdict by 4:30 PM it would be mandatory to return to court February 13, 2015 (February 12, 2015 is a court holiday), to continue deliberations.

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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25 Comments

        1. DanH

          No, it was not an assault rifle. It was a semiautomatic pistol with a detachable magazine and a threaded barrel. The barrel threading will fit a flash suppressor, hand grip or a silencer. The threaded barrel fitting on a semiautomatic pistol makes it illegal under California law. An illegal high capacity magazine was also found.

        2. zaqzaq

          David,

          How many theft charges were there?  I only read about the stolen motorcycle.  Your post mentions “theft charges”.  If Jones was a felon wouldn’t there be more than one charge involving the gun?  Assault weapon and ex felon in possession of a gun?  Did he have any strikes or prison priors?  What is his max possible sentence?  Hopefully the Vanguard will also cover the sentencing for this case so we can see how it concludes.  Thanks.

          1. David Greenwald

            I was told he was acquitted on counts 1 and 2. I need to look at what those are. There will be more coming I believe on this one.

        3. zaqzaq

          David,

          From reading the articles it sounds like there were numerous crimes committed concerning the motorcycle.  Were all of the ones that the jury decided felonies?  Were there other crimes that were not charged because they were misdemeanors?  For example the license plate stolen from the neighbor that was on the motorcycle.  I remember reading something about property crimes following prop 47 that they are now only felonies if the value exceeds $950.  Would/could the possession of the stolen license plate have been a felony prior to prop 47.   Was he charged with this or the stolen 2015 license plate sticker?  Does he have a drivers license?  Did the DA limit the charges that they pursued solely to felonies?  If so, why?  Could it be that they were only concerned with crimes that exposed Jones to a prison sentence?  Does this indicate that he has a significant record that includes strikes or prior prison sentences?  I think this case is interesting from many perspectives to include race relations, police investigations, and the impact of AB 109, Prop 36 and Prop 47 on how the DA proceeds with a case.  I truly hope that the Vanguard can obtain answers to some of these questions and follows this case through sentencing and any appeals that may be filed.

           

        1. sisterhood

          Some of my closest pals are convicted felons. Neither here nor there. I guess next we will be hearing the term “perp” a lot. Folks love to use that word because it sounds similar to “perv.”

        2. zaqzaq

          Sisterhood,

          Individuals who have been convicted of felonies are not allowed to possess guns.  The term “felon” is used to describe this category of individual.  In this case the defendant was charged with possessing a firearm with certain characteristics that qualify it as an assault weapon/gun.  It is illegal for those of your “closest pals” who are felons to possess guns.  I always associated the term perp with suspect.  Your association of perp to perv I think is unique to you and not one that I would have come up with.  Maybe it is your subconscious evaluation of these individuals.

        3. DanH

          Sisterhood, as zaqzaq pointed out the word “felon” has meaning. A felon is a person who has been convicted of a felony. Felons are prohibited from having firearms of any kind for the remainder of their lives. That means that a felon can never possess a gun legally, even after doing time. The defendant was a felon before he was spotted by police and before he went to court to answer charges. It is not good idea for felons not to ride around on stolen motorcycles with stolen plates and registration stickers. Nor is it advisable for felons to have a gun.

  1. Davis Progressive

    “SAFE (Special Assignment Focus Enforcement)”

    as i understand it, the safe team was put into as a way to kind of ensure compliance after the changes under ab 109.  the taskforce members were davis police officers and they used to go around in “pest control” shirts which a lot of people found very offensive for obvious reasons.

    1. sisterhood

      So sorry I really did not mean to click on “report comment” I meant to click on “Reply”. Whew.

      DP plz don’t get me started re: Sac, Yolo & Solano Co. law enforcemt today of all days. I’m trying so hard to have some love in my heart. Now I have to meditate for half an hour about some of the good deeds my dad performed for the public, back east. Oh well. I guess there are worse ways to spend a sunny morning in AZ.   After that I’m heading to the Gem Show.

      Happy Love Day, everyone. AS CSNY sang, (Was Young with them, then?) …the eagle flies with the dove. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

    2. zaqzaq

      DP,

      Removing Jones from the streets and into custody for the gun charges sure sounds like effective “pest control”.  Sounds like we should infer that he has a long history of committing crimes and deserved his convictions.  Not sure how the jury acquitted him on the stolen motorcycle.  Seems they left some common sense at the door of the jury room.  I mean why else would you never register the motorcycle, transfer title through DMV (hand in hand with registration), steal a license plate and then procure a stolen 2015 sticker?  Sounds like some citizens (victims) are out some money for a stolen motorcycle, sticker and plates.  Do the Jones have any remorse?  How about an apology to the community.  Since they played the race card I wonder how the Jones justify stealing the plates, 2015 sticker and not registering the motorcycle or is the some type of entitlement that they think society owes them?  I also wonder when was the last time this guy held a job or does his family also receive public assistance in some form?  Is this family section eight transplants from the bay area that brought their thieving ways with them?  Have they taken housing that could be better used for a local family?  Just another observation.

  2. Miwok

    Is the Attorney declaring this guy should get a pass because he is black? I read the previous story, and did not picture any race except a white guy. Was I racist? I pictured a thief.

     

    1. Davis Progressive

      the defendant in this case is african american.  i believe he and hife wife believe they have been singled out because of their race.  i believe it is a credible claim – not necessarily in this case, but overall.

      ” If the defendant had been a white male that day outside the taqueria, would the SAFE (Special Assignment Focus Enforcement) team have made such an effort to take notice of the defendant’s vehicle license plate?”

      that said, i think this is an important point that a lot of people want to gloss over.

      1. DanH

        A police officer recognized the defendant and knew his name. I’m guessing that the officer knew the defendant was a felon as well. That seems to be a more likely cause of suspicion than racial profiling.

      2. zaqzaq

        DP,

        Do you really think the cops focused on him due to his race instead of recognizing him by name from prior police contacts or arrests?  That is rather naive in my opinion.  You seem to want to gloss over this guys criminal history.   I wonder how many times he has been arrested and convicted?  And then falsely claimed he is the victim of racist cops.  Sounds like he would still be out if he had moved out of town instead of a town where every cop knows your name.

        1. sisterhood

          People who have served their time are often hounded more than the person who has committed many atrocities but never been caught. But mostly it’s drug and gun offenders. It’s interesting how dangerous DUI convicted repeat offenders get off the hook from scrutiny once released from prison. They are also felons. Same with wife batterers and child batterers.

        2. David Greenwald

          He did say not necessarily in this case. I do believe there is something to the families complaint.   What has not been mentioned her was ongoing targeting of their son. I have a file on that somewhere but it’s probably buried in storage.

    2. South of Davis

      Miwok wrote:

      > I read the previous story, and did not picture any race except a white guy. 

      I also have to admit that when I read the guy was involved with identity theft, motorcycles and guns I also pictured a white guy…

  3. zaqzaq

    David,

    Below is the DA press release on the jury verdict.  It indicates that Jones has a prior strike conviction.  Hopefully the Vanguard will cover the next court date and report the outcome.  I am still interested if he has ever been to prison before?  On another note what ever happened to that child abduction case?

    It appears that this is the second time he has been arrested and convicted of possessing guns in Davis after being convicted of a violent three strike offense.  Hopefully he will be incarcerated for a long period of time.  I feel much safer knowing that our police department has removed a violent felon with a penchant for guns from our city.

    (Woodland, CA) – February 17, 2015 – District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced that on February 13, 2015, a Yolo County Jury convicted Christopher Allen Jones, 44, of Oakland of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of an assault weapon, possession of high capacity magazines and possession of ammunition as a felon.

    On August 5, 2014, Davis Police officers executed a search warrant on Jones’ residence as part of an investigation into his earlier possession of a stolen motorcycle. Inside his home, officers found an M-11 9MM assault weapon with ammunition and two high capacity magazines. Jones had previously been convicted of a felony assault charge in the County of Alameda. The jury heard evidence from the officers who contacted Jones and a firearms expert regarding the characteristics of an assault weapon. The jury convicted Jones of the weapons related charges but acquitted him of charges related to the stolen motorcycle. The court also found that Jones had been previously convicted of a prior “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law. The case was presided over by Judge Samuel T. McAdam, who will determine sentencing for this matter on March 27, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in Department 8 of the Yolo County Courthouse.

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