Four Co-Defendant Shooting Prelim Resumes

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photo by Lauren King, Court Watch Intern
photo by Lauren King, Court Watch Intern

By Jackie Snyder and Lauren King

The preliminary hearing of four young defendants allegedly involved in a shooting resumed on the morning of February 19, 2015, Judge Paul Richardson presiding. The four defendants, all in custody, were escorted into the courtroom. Each one was smiling and they were speaking among themselves. The behavior of each individual did not appear typical for a person charged with a serious crime and consequently facing serious repercussions.

The crime all four defendants were being charged of took place the morning of November 18, 2014, when a man and a women were riding their bicycles northbound on Sycamore Ave., south of Proctor Ave., in West Sacramento. A newer model, white, convertible Ford Mustang with several occupants pulled up behind them. A young man then stepped out of the vehicle, allegedly firing several shots at the male and female bicyclists before fleeing the scene. The man riding the bicycle suffered two gunshot wounds to his body and was transferred via AMR (American Medical Response) to UCD Medical Center, according to a West Sacramento Police log. The occupants of the car were later identified as Lisa Humble, Liberty Landowski, Eric Lovett and Michael Reyes.

The first witness called to testify during the resumption of the preliminary hearing was Louis Cameron, a West Sacramento Police Officer. Officer Cameron was dispatched after the initial crime to locate the white Mustang convertible and its occupants. While Officer Cameron did not locate the vehicle, he did discover Eric Lovett standing outside the parking lot of La Quinta Inn in Sacramento. He testified that Lovett acted in a suspicious manner, looking around a lot.

Officer Cameron made contact with Lovett and demanded he get down on the ground. Lovett complied and Officer Cameron searched him, discovering a hotel key card on his person. Officer Cameron asked Lovett which hotel room the key card belonged to, but Lovett remained silent. A hotel clerk traced the key card to room 228.

When officer Cameron knocked on the door to room 228, Michael Reyes opened the door. Lisa Humble and Liberty Landowski were in the room, as well. A search of the room was conducted, and a gun, with a bullet in the chamber, and a glass methamphetamine pipe were discovered. Magazines belonging to the gun were also discovered in the hotel room, as well as a nylon holster.

Detective Eric Palmer of the West Sacramento Police Department was then called to the stand. Detective Palmer stated he was called to the scene of the shooting and was asked to help locate possible evidence. Det. Palmer stated he observed several bullet casings at the scene.

He was then asked about the hotel room rented at La Quinta Inn. Detective Palmer stated that the hotel room had been registered under a woman’s name who was either a friend or relative, but it was not clear which, of Lisa Humble.

When the woman was contacted, she stated she had rented the room for Humble and her young son so they would not be homeless for the night. Det. Palmer also testified that, prior to renting the room at La Quinta Inn, the four defendants were staying at Crowne Plaza, a hotel located near La Quinta Inn, however they had been kicked out for unspecified reasons.

The victim of the shooting was then called as a witness. He was led into the courtroom by an investigator who had him handcuffed. He stated that he did not want to testify. When asked why, the victim mumbled that he just didn’t want to. District Attorney Amanda Zambor questioned the victim, despite his unwillingness to cooperate. When the victim stated once again that he did not want to testify, DDA Zambor told him he must. He then looked at the judge and asked if he had to testify. The judge allowed him to be temporarily excused, and he would be required to testify later in the day.

Detective Michael Duggins was called to the stand. Det. Duggins was asked several questions regarding the search of La Quinta Inn. Det. Duggins testified that when he entered the hotel room at La Quinta Inn, he told the three defendants to get down on the ground. He stated that Lisa Humble went into a fetal type position and reached her arm under the hotel bed. Humble was then told to keep her hands up. Once Det. Duggins detained Humble, he noticed a gun in her waist band.

Detective Duggins’ testimony was very similar to Officer Cameron’s, who was also on the scene at the hotel when the defendants were apprehended. Det. Duggins claimed that a search of the hotel room turned up a methamphetamine pipe, magazines (belonging to the gun found on Humble) and marijuana, in addition to the actual gun. Det. Duggins also testified that hotel receipts found in the wallet of Liberty Landowski linked the defendants to an additional hotel which they had stayed at for several days, prior to moving over to the Crowne Plaza and ultimately the La Quinta Inn.

Sergeant Jason Winger of the West Sacramento Police Department was called to testify next. Sgt. Winger was in charge of recovering information from electronic devices, such as cell phones. Sgt.Winger testified that information recovered from Eric Lovett’s cell phone linked him to the gang, the Broderick Boys.

Sgt. Winger was also able to recover audio files from Michael Reyes’ phone. He testified there were three to four emails, which were recordings off a police scanner regarding the November 18, 2014, shooting.

Apparently a police scanner was attained by an individual and, when the November 18, 2014, incident was played over the scanner, a recording was made (of the information relayed on the scanner).

The emails were exchanged between Humble and Reyes. Information was also recovered on Reyes’ Facebook account, which revealed gang activity.

Court was then dismissed for lunch. Judge Richardson asked that court reconvene at 1:00 p.m., not the usual 1:30pm. His reason was that several of the attorneys had other matters to attend to the next day, and the preliminary hearing would need to conclude by 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon Session

After the lunch break on February 19, 2015, the preliminary hearing for Lisa Humble, Liberty Landowski, Eric Lovett and Michael Reyes resumed before Judge Richardson. DDA Zambor continued her direct examination of Sgt. Jason Winger.

Sgt. Winger surveyed the Facebook accounts of all four defendants, searching for references to the November 18, 2014, shooting, the victim or his wife, violence, weapons, or Norteño street gangs. He looked at thousands of pages compiled from the defendants’ Facebook messages. Sgt. Winger first discussed the significant messages that he found within Mr. Reyes’ Facebook account.

In one of the conversations between Mr. Reyes and another male, both Mr. Reyes and his correspondent referred to being “active” in a gang. The term “active” means that they are currently participating members of a gang. They also briefly discussed a problem that they had with an unnamed individual.

Within a second conversation, Mr. Reyes wrote “Being B-Boys to the fullest, pushing to the end.” It is believed that Mr. Reyes was referring to the Broderick Boys, a Norteño street gang. In a third conversation, Mr. Reyes spoke about “gang jumping” another member who attempted to drop out of the gang. The aforementioned member was labeled a traitor. Within the same batch of messages, Mr. Reyes and the correspondent discussed drug sales.

Sgt. Winger also found a reference to the two female defendants within Mr. Reyes’ Facebook messages. A female, believed to be the mother of Mr. Reyes’ child, asked Mr. Reyes if he could give her a ride somewhere, to which Mr. Reyes responded, “Look, I can’t because it’s Lisa’s friend’s car.”

The sergeant then mentioned a few conspicuous messages that he discovered within Mr. Lovett’s Facebook account. These messages were exchanged between Mr. Lovett and Mr. Reyes. Mr. Reyes wrote to Mr. Lovett, “I will not tolerate disrespect…Yeah, I’m cool. I’m on the hunt. Watch for me.”

On November 9, 2014, Mr. Reyes sent Mr. Lovett a photograph. The photograph was a cellular phone screen capture of a Facebook page. Underneath the photograph Mr. Reyes wrote, “Here is target.” Mr. Lovett objected, “He’s family to me, no longer target.”

Sgt. Winger testified that he did not see the names of the victim or his wife mentioned in any of the defendants’ Facebook messages

Defense attorney James Granucci, counsel for Mr. Reyes, cross-examined the witness. Mr. Granucci questioned Sgt. Winger about how he came to possess Mr. Reyes’ cellular phone and how he knew it to be Mr. Reyes’ phone. Sgt. Winger was not entirely clear on how he found the cellular phone, but he discovered several references to Mr. Reyes’ alias, “Chubs.” This information led the sergeant to believe the phone belonged to Mr. Reyes.

On the cellular phone, Sgt. Winger also discovered three or four emails that were sent from Ms. Humble’s Gmail account to Mr. Reyes’ email account. The emails contained audio files composed of clips from a police scanner. The radio traffic captured within the audio files contained officers talking about the shooting that occurred on November 18, 2014. The files also captured Officer Alisha Slater reporting that Mr. Reyes was the shooter and that law enforcement was searching for the white Ford Mustang.  These emails were sent several hours after the shooting took place.

Mr. Granucci then asked Sgt. Winger a few more questions about the information that he had gathered from the defendants’ Facebook accounts. On October 26, 2014, Mr. Reyes had a conversation in which he discussed selling a .22 pistol to cover a drug debt. It was unclear which of the two individuals were involved in the debt.

On Mr. Lovett’s Facebook page, Sgt. Winger came across a photograph of Mr. Lovett with a shotgun and a smaller handgun. Mr. Lovett posed with one of the guns pointed at the camera. It did not appear that either gun was the .22 involved in the shooting. There were no pictures found of Mr. Reyes with a firearm.

The sergeant testified that he found very little, if any, communication between the four defendants on November 18, 2014. However, he believed that they might have frequently used a Facebook Messenger cellular phone application. Communication via this application cannot be traced well. One cannot tell to whom someone has spoken using the application.

Defense attorney Richard Staff, counsel for Ms. Landowski, briefly cross-examined the witness. Mr. Staff wanted to know the exact times that Facebook messages were exchanged and also inquired about the messages’ authenticity. Sgt. Winger testified that it was impossible for him to determine the exact times that the messages were sent because the time stamps do not indicate a time zone. He also admitted that it was possible, but very unlikely, that someone else had sent messages from the defendants’ Facebook accounts. The cellular phone company has yet to provide law enforcement with all of the data that has been requested via search warrant.

DDA Zambor briefly conducted a redirect examination of the witness. She questioned Sgt. Winger about the search of Mr. Lovett’s cellular phone. The sergeant was unable to bypass the phone’s password protection. Therefore, instead of searching Mr. Lovett’s phone the same way as Mr. Reyes’, he had to settle for searching the phone’s memory card. Sgt. Winger found gang-related photographs and thumbnails that likely came from Mr. Lovett’s Facebook account.

The next witness called to testify was the gunshot victim. DDA Zambor agreed to give the victim immunity in exchange for his testimony. The victim testified that he got into two fights with a man he referred to as “Donnie.” The fights occurred in 2013, about a month apart. The fights occurred more than six months before the shooting. After the second fight, the victim was imprisoned for a drug sale conviction.  The victim stated that both fights occurred because Donnie provoked him. He has not seen Donnie since the second fight took place.

Mr. Reyes is Donnie’s stepson. Donnie and his wife talked to the victim about him often. The victim knew Mr. Reyes as both Michael Reyes and “Chubs.”

On the morning of November 18, 2014, the victim and his wife were riding their bicycles from the “skate park.” They were on their way to drop off their bicycles before seeing the victim’s probation officer. A white Ford Mustang with a soft blue convertible top pulled up nearby. The victim did not see the driver or the vehicle’s license plate number.

Mr. Reyes got out of the passenger seat, approached the victim, and asked if he had a problem. The victim replied, “No, because you got that gun.” Mr. Reyes was holding a black pistol in his hand. The victim rode his bicycle past Mr. Reyes. He did not stop when Mr. Reyes confronted him.  Five to ten seconds later, the victim heard gunshots and quickly felt their impact.

The victim stepped down from his bicycle and tried to flee the scene. Soon after, the victim fell down and blacked out. When he came to, he saw his wife speaking to “some lady.” “I’m gonna die,” he told her.

The victim sustained three gunshot wounds to his back, right arm, and leg. He claimed that he did not know why Mr. Reyes shot him. The victim stated that he did not have any previous problems with Mr. Reyes. He also did not know or recognize Ms. Humble, Ms. Landowski, or Mr. Lovett.

In the past, the victim was a member of the Franklin Boys Norteño gang. He had problems with the Broderick Boys when he was younger. When the victim was an active gang member, he had to earn “street cred” by acquiring money and beating up members of rival gangs. He used guns, knives, and sticks to achieve his aims and he also dealt drugs. In 2003, he dropped out of the gang because he wanted to spend more time with his family by not being in police custody.

The victim has prior convictions for things such as drug sales, domestic violence, weapon possession, and assault and battery. He was arrested for these convictions. After the second fight with Donnie in 2013, the victim was arrested and convicted for selling drugs.

The victim was hesitant to testify in court because he did not want to generate retaliation against his family. It was because of this that he did not show up for the preliminary hearing on February 13. He was arrested for doing so and forced to testify.

Mr. Granucci cross-examined the witness. The victim testified that he has regularly carried a knife on him for protection. He did not have any weapons on him the day of the shooting, was not intoxicated, and was unaware that his wife possessed the baseball bat with razor blades affixed to its end. The victim was wearing a red backpack that day with clothes and toiletries inside.

The victim then answered further questions about the fights he had with Donnie. He testified that he did not beat up Donnie for being a snitch. Mr. Granucci asked this because the victim was arrested soon after the second altercation. The victim told the court that he fought with Donnie on the two occasions because he was “a little s— talker.” The victim did not carry any weapons during the fights.

DDA Zambor conducted a redirect examination of the witness. She asked the victim to provide more information about the day of the shooting. The victim stated that day was the first time that he had seen the Mustang. When his wife saw the vehicle she said, “Come on, let’s go! Let’s go!”

The victim then said that he knew that his wife had a small baseball bat on her that day. She had a small, blue River Cats baseball bat, but she never took it out of her backpack. No one had threatened Mr. Reyes. The victim did not believe that the shooting was gang-related. He had had no problems with active gang members for being a dropout, and did not know Mr. Reyes’ opinion on such things.

The victim was excused from the stand and DDA Zambor called Detective Anthony Herrera to testify. Det. Herrera is a gang detective who investigates gang crimes and activities for the West Sacramento police department. He gains information by talking to such sources as gang members and other officers. The detective has been involved in over 100 search warrants involving gang members, and has taken training courses over the span of seven years. The court deemed Det. Herrera to be an expert on gangs.

Det. Herrera defines a street gang as two or more people with a common sign or symbol. The detective is quite familiar with the Broderick Boys street gang. There are over one hundred members in the Broderick Boys gang. One of their gang signs is the Budweiser “B” with a crown on it. Their gang color is red.

Det. Herrera believes that Mr. Reyes is an active member of the Broderick Boys street gang. Mr. Reyes has contacted and been seen with known members. Mr. Reyes also has several gang-related tattoos. Examples are a Broderick “B” on his right elbow and four dots on his left elbow.

There are thirty-three criteria that are consulted to determine whether someone is a gang member. Mr. Reyes met nine of the thirty-three criteria. Det. Herrera also viewed Mr. Reyes’ Facebook page and saw photographs of Mr. Reyes with known gang members. The detective also discovered text messages that Mr. Reyes exchanged with a known Broderick Boys gang member. Mr. Reyes claimed that he only wanted to be a member of the gang for protection. He did not want to be instructed on the gang’s ideology.

Det. Herrera spoke to a family member of Mr. Reyes on the day of the shooting. The family member did not know where Mr. Reyes was on November 18, 2014. The detective also responded to the La Quinta Inn that night, and saw Mr. Lovett in the parking lot. Det. Herrera recognized Mr. Lovett, and previously determined from both word on the street and social media that he was very active on the streets with Mr. Reyes. The detective also discovered that Ms. Humble was Mr. Lovett’s girlfriend.

Det. Herrera and two other officers knocked on the door of room 228 and Mr. Reyes answered. Mr. Reyes immediately put his hands up. The detective discovered Ms. Humble and Ms. Landowski lying in a fetal position behind a bed. When Ms. Humble stood up, Det. Herrera saw the .22 black pistol in her pants as well as an extra magazine.

The preliminary hearing ended for the day and was set to resume on March 3, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. Mr. Staff has decided to file a motion to suppress evidence and some witnesses may have to be recalled. The motion is likely to delay the conclusion of this hearing. Mr. Reyes is facing an attempted murder charge, while the other defendants are being held on lesser charges.

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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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