By Jackie Snyder, Lauren King, and Mahanaz Ebadi
The trial of Anthony Goodson, Jr., and Rudy Gonzalez II began March 3, 2015. The trial was held in Department 4, Judge David Rosenberg presiding. The two young men on trial were charged with three counts: sale of marijuana (on August 29, 2014), sale of a controlled substance (on September 5, 2014) and sale of marijuana (on September 5, 2014).
Deputy District Attorney Larry Eichele began with a short opening statement in which he said that the trial is based on two separate events, one taking place on August 29, 2014, and the second taking place on September 5, 2014. Both events involve an undercover police detective who witnessed the two defendants discussing the price of marijuana to be purchased as well as the price of oxycodone. DDA Eichele wrapped up his opening statement by stating that he expected the trial to be fairly quick.
Deputy Public Defender Monica Brushia, counsel for Rudy Gonzalez, painted her client as a victim in her opening statement. She did not deny the fact that Gonzalez was present on the two dates in question. She did, however, state that Gonzalez has issues with drug abuse and, while the “government” may call Gonzalez a middleman, the reality is that he should be considered a pawn.
Defense Attorney Robert Spangler then gave his opening statement on Anthony Goodson’s behalf. Mr. Spangler stated that there are two types of evidence existing in this case, direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. The direct evidence in the case is Gonzalez speaking with an undercover detective. The circumstantial evidence refers to the areas of the case surrounding Goodson’s involvement, in particular with the oxycodone. Mr. Spangler claimed, in regard to the oxycodone, one is drawing inferences that point to either guilt or innocence.
Once opening statements concluded, DDA Eichele called his first witness, Detective Sean Bellamy. Det. Bellamy works for the City of Davis Police Department, within the unit referred to as SAFE (Special Assignment Focus Enforcement). The SAFE team works closely with other specialized teams such as YONET (Yolo County Narcotics Enforcement Team) while conducting undercover operations. Det. Bellamy stated he had worked on a “couple dozen” undercover operations, however, his first undercover operation in which he personally exchanged money for drugs was the operation involving the two defendants, Gonzalez and Goodson.
When asked how the operation took place, Det. Bellamy testified that he was asked by another member of the SAFE team to call Gonzalez and set up a drug sale. Det. Bellamy stated he then began a conversation with Gonzalez, via text message, negotiating the purchase of marijuana. Bellamy stated that he sent Gonzalez a total of 18 texts messages, in which they discussed whether Gonzalez had any marijuana and the price of the marijuana. This was prior to the actual transaction taking place.
Det. Bellamy then asked Gonzalez to meet him at a Carl’s Jr. located on 1701 Cowell Blvd in Davis. When Gonzalez arrived at the location, he was with an unidentified male, who served as a lookout, Bellamy believed. Gonzalez went to Bellamy’s vehicle and explained to him that he could not get in touch with his “plug.” Det. Bellamy then asked if Gonzalez could possibly find someone else to get the marijuana from. Gonzalez made a call. Not long after the call was made, a 2000 Honda Accord, with Goodson, pulled up. Det. Bellamy then testified that the money was exchanged and Goodson left to get the marijuana.
Gonzalez stayed behind and waited in Bellamy’s vehicle. Det. Bellamy stated that both he and Gonzalez engaged in a conversation for approximately 15 minutes, until Goodson returned. Upon Goodson’s arrival, two grams of marijuana were exchanged, from Gonzalez’s hand to Det. Bellamy. Gonzalez then asked Bellamy whether he was “still” interested in purchasing oxycodone on a different date. Det. Bellamy stated he was, and inquired into the strength of the drug and its price. Gonzalez walked over to Goodson’s car as if to ask him a question. When Gonzalez returned to Bellamy’s vehicle he told Bellamy that the pills were 30 mg. in strength and $25.00 for each pill.
Judge Rosenberg then excused the witness and jury for lunch. He asked that court reconvene at 1:30 p.m.
The trial of Rudy Gonzalez and Anthony Goodson, Jr., reconvened after the lunch break on March 3, 2015, at the Yolo County Superior Courthouse. Deputy District Attorney Larry Eichele continued direct examination of Detective Sean Bellamy.
Before the break, Det. Bellamy was questioned about the first sale that he was involved in while undercover for the Davis Police Department SAFE team unit. This sale occurred on August 29, 2014 at the Carl’s Jr. on Cowell Blvd. Det. Bellamy continued his testimony regarding one of the conversations he had engaged in with Mr. Gonzalez.
The detective asked if he could purchase OxyContin (a brand of oxycodone with a time-release mechanism), which prompted Mr. Gonzalez to confer with Mr. Goodson inside Mr. Goodson’s vehicle. Mr. Gonzalez returned and, as indicated above, informed the undercover detective that the OxyContin would cost $25.00 per tablet. However, when Det. Bellamy indicated that he wished to proceed with the sale, Mr. Gonzalez consulted Mr. Goodson once more and informed the detective that it would take a few days for them to get the product.
This interaction was audio recorded by law enforcement via Det. Bellamy’s hidden recording device. The detective wrote down Mr. Goodson’s license plate number before leaving the Carl’s Jr. parking lot. After Det. Bellamy returned to the police station, he took part in an operational briefing with other law enforcement officers that were involved in the operation. In this briefing, the officers went over the events that had taken place and discussed the efficiency of the technical components involved in the day’s operation.
On September 5, Det. Bellamy intended to meet with Mr. Gonzalez in the same Carl’s Jr. parking lot. Mr. Gonzalez responded to Det. Bellamy’s initial text message and said that he needed to retrieve something from his house, but he could meet him at the Carl’s Jr. in about 30 minutes. Det. Bellamy waited in the parking lot for over an hour and, after Mr. Gonzalez still did not appear, he decided to leave. Ten to 15 minutes after the detective left, Mr. Gonzalez called.
Det. Bellamy and Mr. Gonzalez decided to meet at the Del Taco across the street from the Carl’s Jr. Mr. Gonzalez texted the detective temporal updates as he neared the location. Soon, a gray Honda sedan approached. It was Mr. Goodson’s vehicle. Mr. Goodson was in the driver’s seat and Mr. Gonzalez was sitting in the front passenger seat. Mr. Goodson parked two spaces away from Det. Bellamy’s vehicle.
Mr. Gonzalez approached Det. Bellamy’s vehicle and settled into the passenger seat. Mr. Gonzalez then reached over and dropped three tablets into the detective’s hand. Det. Bellamy gave him $75.00. After the OxyContin transaction, the detective asked if Mr. Gonzalez had “any more of that fire.” “Fire” is a potent form of marijuana. Mr. Gonzalez did not have any on him, but retrieved three small bags of marijuana that Mr. Goodson had taken from the floorboard behind the front passenger seat of his vehicle.
Det. Bellamy asked Mr. Gonzalez if the bags contained an eighth of an ounce and offered to pay $45.00 for it. The detective offered that sum because Mr. Gonzalez told him that he “really didn’t know what he wanted for it [the marijuana].” It appeared that Mr. Gonzalez was referring to Mr. Goodson.
Mr. Gonzalez got back into the Honda sedan and conversed with Mr. Goodson for a time before being handed something. Mr. Gonzalez returned to Det. Bellamy’s vehicle and delivered three processed marijuana buds. Mr. Gonzalez informed the detective that the additional marijuana was given to bring the total value of the product to $45.00.
After this exchange, Mr. Gonzalez and Mr. Goodson departed. As they drove away, Det. Bellamy noted the Honda’s license plate number and reported it over the wire. The completion of the second sale brought the operation to an end.
This undercover operation was Det. Bellamy’s first. For this reason, he did not know what an eighth of an ounce of marijuana felt like. The detective handed the drugs over to Officer Justin Raymond after reporting to the police department. Det. Bellamy was later told by law enforcement that he had been given 2.9 grams of marijuana during the second sale.
The undercover operation was conducted to address drug problems in Davis and also to identify the defendants. Det. Bellamy referred to it as a “buy/walk operation.” The detective researched OxyContin before the operation began to familiarize himself with its size, color, etc.
DDA Eichele then presented the witness with several envelopes. The envelopes contained narcotics and Det. Bellamy was asked to identify the contents of each envelope. The detective identified the contents as the narcotics he was sold during the undercover operation and identified each substance by name. Det. Bellamy was then presented with a document, which he identified as a document from an agency that the SAFE team unit utilizes to verify information pertaining to seized narcotics.
Det. Bellamy had no further contact with the defendants after the second sale. The detective also testified that he was able to discover the name of the unidentified individual that was present during the first sale after searching the police database for people associated with Mr. Gonzalez. It was also helpful that the previously unidentified individual had a distinguishing tattoo on his forearm.
Defense Attorney John Spangler, counsel for Mr. Goodson, then cross-examined the witness. Det. Bellamy testified that he was not involved in the actual arrests of the defendants, but he authored the report that showed probable cause for the arrest. Mr. Spangler also asked the detective if he had ever seen his client with a phone. Det. Bellamy testified that he had not.
Mr. Spangler questioned the detective about the first sale on August 29, 2014. During this first sale, Mr. Gonzalez tried to get in touch with his marijuana supplier. After several failed attempts, Det. Bellamy asked if Mr. Gonzalez had another supplier that he could contact. Shortly after contacting a second supplier, Mr. Goodson drove up to the Carl’s Jr. and yelled, “You guys wanna get high?” The unnamed individual that had arrived with the two defendants approached Det. Bellamy’s vehicle and asked if he wanted to follow the men to fetch the previously requested two ounces of marijuana. Det. Bellamy did not have contact with Mr. Goodson during either sale.
Det. Bellamy asked that one man stay with him and that the other two go get the marijuana. The detective desired this arrangement so that he could ensure that the other two men would return. When the two men did return, Det. Bellamy paid them $20.00.
Det. Bellamy verified that, during the first sale, there were three men in Mr. Goodson’s vehicle and that he drove away after he paid the unnamed man. Neither Det. Bellamy nor Mr. Goodson ever left their vehicles during the two sales.
Deputy Public Defender Monica Brushia, counsel for Mr. Gonzalez, then began her cross-examination of the witness. Det. Bellamy testified that the SAFE team secures audio recordings during their operations, but they do not have the capability to record video. DPD Brushia then inquired further into the details of the first sale on August 29.
During this initial contact, Det. Bellamy asked Mr. Gonzalez for “fire.” Mr. Gonzalez asked that the detective pay a fee of $20.00 for two grams of the substance. The detective agreed to these terms and Mr. Gonzalez attempted to contact someone on his phone because he did not have any marijuana with him. After a time, Mr. Gonzalez informed Det. Bellamy that he could not locate his “plug.” The detective asked Mr. Gonzalez to try again and asked whether Mr. Gonzalez knew anyone else that could help.
Mr. Gonzalez was with the unnamed, tattooed man at this time, which implied that this man was not the supplier. A short time later, Mr. Goodson arrived and yelled out of his car window in a joking manner. Det. Bellamy testified again that, after Mr. Goodson arrived, the unnamed man approached his vehicle and asked if he wanted to follow the men to retrieve the narcotics.
The trial was then adjourned for a brief recess.
After the Afternoon Break
After recess, the court was once again in session. Cross-examination was taking place by Monica Brushia. The witness who was on the stand was Detective Sean Bellamy.
According to Bellamy’s report, a Berciaga spoke with another officer in regard to the drug. Bellamy told the court about his interaction with the client (Gonzalez) and how he handed him a $20 bill to gain possession of the marijuana. Gonzalez was unaware that Bellamy was undercover.
During their brief interaction, Bellamy informed the court of the conversation that took place. Bellamy started a conversation with Gonzalez but wasn’t very forceful, in fear of being caught. Bellamy asked Gonzalez how he made a living. Gonzales mentioned that he gets financial support from his parents.
He also informed Bellamy that he was currently residing with his parents. A key point Ms. Brushia brought up was the fact that Gonzalez had a prompt [Prop.] 215 card, which is a medicinal marijuana card.
Bellamy asked Gonzalez for pills and Gonzalez informed Bellamy that “he has more.” Bellamy assumed Gonzalez was referring to his dealer, and Gonzalez informed Bellamy that he has oxycodone pills but he will have to buy three at around 75 dollars. These pills were described to be around 30 milligrams of oxycodone.
They separated, and the second interaction was supposed to take place at Carl’s Jr. Bellamy waited for around an hour until he decided to head out. Bellamy informed the court that he received a call from Gonzalez around 10 to 15 minutes later, asking him to meet at Del Taco.
Bellamy did as was discussed, and he witnessed Gonzalez exit out of Mr. Goodson’s vehicle. Gonzalez then entered Bellamy’s vehicle and handed him the oxycodone pill, for which Bellamy paid him what they had discussed. Bellamy asked Gonzalez, “Do you think he has any more fire on him?” Gonzalez answered with, “Ya, he got it here.”
Mr. Eichele objected to Ms. Brushia’s line of questioning on the grounds that she was just going over Det. Bellamy’s statement, and not actually cross-examining the witness.
There was soon a redirect by Eichele, in which he asked Det. Bellamy to quickly restate and clarify some details of the interaction.
The jurors also asked Bellamy two questions in regard to the interaction, about the time the incident took place and whether or not the windows of Goodson’s vehicle were tinted.
The second witness that was called up to the witness stand was Samandeep Mahil. She is a representative of Solano County
She is a criminalist assigned to various departments to determine the presence of alcohol and drugs. She has worked for that county for five years and previously worked for Sacramento County for a little over six years.
Both witnesses were subject to recall, and there is one more witness to be called before the jury will be asked to decide on a verdict.