By Jackie Snyder, Tressa Bryant, Madeleine Gallay and Haroutun Bejanyan
On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, the prosecution wrapped up their case in the trial of Michael Reyes, Lisa Humble and Liberty Landowski. The three are charged with attempting to kill a Hispanic male in West Sacramento on November 18, 2014.
Officer Anthony Herrera, a police officer employed through the city of West Sacramento, resumed his testimony from July 27. He is a witness to events in this case, as well as accepted by the court as an expert on gangs. He specializes in crimes involving gangs and narcotics. The case includes the three young defendants allegedly being involved in gang activity.
Officer Herrera testified about his knowledge of each defendant and how they were allegedly linked to a gang. Although one of the defendants (Michael Reyes) admitted to being an active gang member, both defense attorneys representing the female defendants maintained there was no evidence to support their alleged participation in a gang.
Facebook accounts belonging to each of the defendants were discussed thoroughly. Officer Herrera testified that many of Reyes’ posts (to Facebook) were to other established gang members, thus showing Reyes’ active involvement in a gang.
Officer Herrera testified that he originally looked at social media accounts as a means of discovering possible leads to the case. Once a witness had identified an individual, referred to as “Chubs” (Michael Reyes), as the shooter in the November 18 incident, Officer Herrera researched possible individuals associated with him.
Lisa Humble, originally identified by a witness as the driver of the white Mustang (linked to the shooting), was involved with an individual who was a member of Reyes’ gang. Once this connection was made, further investigation of Facebook accounts uncovered that an individual by the name of Liberty Landowski, a long-time friend of Humble, happened to own a white convertible Mustang. This finding would ultimately lead to the arrests of all three defendants.
When discussing whether the defendants’ actions during the incident as well as after the fact could be considered as gang activity, Officer Herrera believed they could. Officer Herrera testified that it was possible the shooting was committed for personal reasons, but most likely it was committed for the benefit of or promotion of Reyes’ gang. Herrera explained that he felt both female defendants were associated with the gang as well, due to the fact they assisted Reyes by hiding the vehicle involved in the shooting, among other things. Officer Herrera stated that when both female defendants took part in assisting Reyes, who is a active gang member, an association factor (with the gang) was created.
Mr. Granucci, attorney for Reyes, cross-examined Officer Herrera by having him agree that they are only assumptions that Mr. Reyes knew the victim was selling drugs and was staying at the skate park, because there was no evidence that Reyes knew that. Officer Herrera, however, did not believe that the encounter between Reyes and the victim was by chance because of the Facebook messages stating that Reyes was going out “hunting.” Herrera apparently never actually knew whether the victim was dealing drugs, but had heard stories that he was.
Mr. Reyes has always been proud of being a Broderick Boy and was always up front about his actions and gang involvement. Reyes had committed a few crimes in the past, and he was always forthcoming about them with the investigators. In these previous cases, a gang enhancement was never added to his charges. Reyes was in state prison for three years for stealing a car and gun. He has had several associations with different gangs, and was wearing his gang colors during the investigative discussions.
Officer Herrera had never seen the Mustang until looking at pictures of it on Facebook. Herrera arrived around 5:30pm at the La Quinta Inn and helped bring the defendants to the police station.
The investigators knew to search for four people because the victim’s wife reported seeing a car full of people. They connected the defendants through Facebook. Throughout the interviews, the victim’s wife was the only one to report more than two people in the car.
Ms. Landowski and Ms. Humble have never been in trouble with the law before this incident. Ms. Landowski had only known Mr. Reyes for a very short period of time before the crime. The girls are often used by gangs to help out by hiding evidence, according to Investigator Herrera. In order to be considered a gang associate, there are three criteria that one must have and Ms. Landowski only had two. The girls hid the car, which is still missing today. There is no evidence that Ms. Landowski even knew the victim.
Detective Herrera finished his testimony by revealing more to the court about the Broderick Boys. He spoke about gang territories, prison politics and respect – that, if broken, will end in assault.
He also delved more into validated gang members. The numbers of validated gang members have increased in the past year, possibly because more police have been assigned to monitor them.
Officer Herrera mentioned Michael Reyes’ admission to being a Broderick Boy. He also narrowed the timeframe for when Michael received his tattoos, to within the last year and a half.
The second witness of the afternoon was the manager of the Crowne Plaza, recalled to the witness stand by Landowski’s defense attorney, J. Toney. Prior to calling this witness, Toney set up the testimony with some preliminary statements. He began by establishing that Landowski had known defendant Michael Reyes for only 24 hours leading up to the incident.
Landowski had no prior knowledge and was not aware of Reyes being involved with any gang . The relationship between the defendants Landowski and Reyes was merely a one-time sexual encounter and nothing more than a fling. Since Landowski had a car, Reyes asked her for a ride the morning following their encounter.
During the ride, Reyes instructed her to pull over, where he stepped out to engage in conversation with someone on the side of the street. Shots were suddenly fired after the conversation turned into a heated argument. At the sound of shots being fired, Landowski stepped on the pedal and took off, fleeing the scene in a state of fear and panic. She was in fear of the repercussions that she would face for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which led her to hide her car so she would not be linked to the crime.
After Mr. Toney presented this summary, the manager of the Crowne Plaza stepped up to the stand.
The witness had been recalled, after referring back to his business records, to restate specific details that had been previously misstated. The initial room to which the defendants had been assigned was room 306, but they switched over to room 317 the same day at precisely 1:07pm on November 17 because they wanted a room with two beds.
The following day, on November 18, the residents of room 317 were evicted at 11am, an hour short of their check out time, due to disturbance complaints by hotel neighbors. The hotel manager said that the only time he actually caught a glimpse of the defendants was for a brief instant as they were exiting the hotel lobby after eviction. However, he was able to recognize and identify the three defendants, Humble, Landowski and Reyes, as the three hotel residents that he had momentarily seen several months prior.