By Jackie Snyder and Lauren King
June 2, 2015, marked the second day of the Eugene Lemasters trial. There were several issues with the jurors. Before the witnesses (below) were called to testify, Judge David Reed had to call an early recess.
Juror #6 wrote on her notepad, “I Will Kill You” with an arrow pointing to the alternate juror sitting beside her. The bailiff would arrest Juror #6 for criminal threats. Judge Reed called the alternate into the courtroom and asked about the incident. Juror #6 had overheard a conversation between Juror #1 and the alternate, the day before, and had taken offense.
In addition, Juror #10 was asked to come into the courtroom for an unrelated issue. Juror #10 was upset due to his sensitivity to issues of addiction (this trial deals with a gambling addiction). He did not like the way Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes addressed addiction during opening statements.
The juror also took issue with a map that was presented, showing the location of the Bank of America in Davis. He said he was a geologist and the map was not accurate. DDA Hasapes asked for him to be excused from the jury, but the judge ruled against.
The trial continued. Several police officers employed through the City of Davis were called as witnesses during the evidence portion of the trial. Among the officers who testified were Andrew Penrose, Tony Dias and Lorelee Cox.
Officer Andrew Penrose testified that he was one of the officers to be dispatched to the Bank of America on February 21, 2015, regarding a robbery. Officer Penrose stated that when he arrived on the scene there were approximately 20 to 25 people inside the bank, most likely unaware of what had just taken place. Officer Penrose stated that the entrance to the bank was locked, per bank protocol, to prevent anyone else from entering the building. Officer Penrose testified that his role during this time was to secure the bank.
The next witness called to testify was Officer Tony Dias. Officer Dias testified that he was scheduled to work later in the day on February 21, 2015, however, he was asked to report early due to the robbery. Officer Dias, a member of the “Evidence Response Team,” assisted in the collection of evidence and helped to process and preserve the crime scene.
Officer Dias stated that he viewed the surveillance in an effort to narrow down the area where the defendant’s fingerprints may exist. DDA Hasapes asked Officer Dias if he would recognize the surveillance footage if he (DDA Hasapes) played it for the court. Office Dias stated that he would.
Mr. Hasapes then played a portion of the surveillance footage and asked that Officer Dias explain what he saw on the footage. Officer Dias pointed out the defendant as the defendant waited in line for a bank teller to assist him.
Officer Dias then stated that he noticed a bulge by the defendant’s waistband. Officer Dias stated that he had been trained to look for this as it may potentially be a concealed weapon. In addition, Office Dias stated that he noticed the defendant scanning the room.
The last witness called before afternoon break was Officer Lorelee Cox. Officer Cox was dispatched to the confirmed robbery alarm at the Bank of America. Officer Cox testified that during the commission of the robbery the bank teller was able to place bait money, along with a hidden GPS tracker, in the defendant’s bag.
Due to the GPS, Officer Cox, as well as another police officer, were able to track the defendant’s location. Officer Cox testified that, once the location of the defendant – who was driving a gold Kia – was discovered, he tried to evade the police officers.
This led to a chase through Davis. Once the defendant was apprehended, he made the statement that he did not have a gun. The defendant was then placed under arrest by Officer Cox. Officer Cox stated that, when the defendant was searched, a small two-inch baggie was found in his sock. The baggie contained a white residue which Officer Cox claimed to be “crank.”
Officer Cox stated that the defendant’s behavior was not consistent with that of a person under the influence. She testified that his demeanor was calm and that he even apologized for what had recently taken place, stating that he was relieved no one was hurt.
The jury was then excused for afternoon break. The trial was set to resume at 1:30pm.
The trial of Eugene Lemasters resumed on the afternoon of June 2, 2015, at the Yolo County Superior Courthouse. Officer Lorelee Cox, a witness for DDA Hasapes, returned to the stand after the lunch break.
Officer Cox had searched the defendant and was the officer to transfer him to the police station. Mr. Lemasters was very compliant and no weapons were found on his person.
The defendant was very apologetic the entire time he was in custody. Upon searching Mr. Lemasters, however, Officer Cox discovered a baggie inside his sock that contained a white residue.
Also inside the sock was a small straw. Officer Cox suspected that the white residue was methamphetamine.
Mr. Lemasters informed the officer that the residue was “crank” and that he had used earlier that day. Despite this confession, Officer Cox testified that the defendant did not exhibit any delusional or irrational behavior and did appear to be under the influence.
The next witness was Officer Mathew Muscardini of the Davis Police Department. On February 21, 2015, between 11:00am and 12:00pm, the officer was dispatched to a robbery alarm call at the Bank of America in downtown Davis.
Officer Muscardini was advised via police dispatch about a mobile tracking device that was taken from the bank. Dispatch continually updated officers with the most recent location of the tracker. The officer drove his patrol vehicle to each updated location until he noticed a suspicious vehicle approach a red light and make a right-hand turn without stopping.
Officer Muscardini eventually caught up to the vehicle and dispatched the brownish Kia’s license plate number before attempting to conduct a traffic stop on Mace Boulevard. The officer turned on the overhead lights and the patrol car’s dash camera turned on automatically.
The pursuit, from that point on, was recorded via dash camera. The video was played before the court. Many traffic violations were made by the defendant and, on several occasions, the Kia was driving on the wrong side of the street, the center divider, or in a bicycle lane.
The pursuit reached speeds up to 102 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. Downtown Davis was brimming with pedestrians and bicyclists which made the pursuit particularly dangerous.
After about fifteen minutes, the Kia overcorrected and came to a stop on the wrong side of the road. Officer Muscardini pulled his patrol vehicle in front of the defendant’s so that the defendant would be unable to continue driving.
The officer and defendant both exited their respective vehicles and the defendant complied when asked to get down onto the ground. All demands were met without further struggle.
The defendant did not appear to be under the influence of anything and did not exhibit any signs of being under the influence of methamphetamine. Officer Muscardini helped Officer Cox walk the defendant to her patrol car, and Officer Muscardini had no further contact with Mr. Lemasters.
The final witness of the afternoon was Officer Ronald Trn of the Davis Police Department. Officer Trn was the on-call detective on February 21 and was called from his home around 12:30pm.
The officer was notified of the bank robbery and subsequent pursuit and it was desired that he take the case. The officer interviewed the defendant, along with an FBI agent, at the police station. The FBI agent was needed due to the fact that robbing a bank is a federal crime.
Officer Trn’s portion of the interview lasted about a half hour. In 2001, the officer had taken a 20-hour course on controlled substances. From this training, the officer did not believe that the defendant was under the influence or suffering from delusions.
The interview was recorded and played in open court. Throughout the interview, the defendant appeared calm, lucid, polite and very apologetic.
Court was adjourned for the afternoon and the trial was set to resume on the morning of June 3, 2015.