By Lindsay Christenson
On Thursday, February 11, 2016, a preliminary hearing was held for Francisco Delgado. Delgado is being charged with several different counts including attempted murder, with an enhancement for the use of a firearm, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, and domestic violence.
The hearing began with Deputy District Attorney Martha Holzapfel calling her first witness to the stand, Officer Benjamin Yen. Yen works for the Woodland Police Department and has been an officer for about eight years. Yen was on duty on February 28, 2015, when he was dispatched to the Community Lane Apartments in Woodland. He arrived to find a victim lying against a car in the parking lot, holding his bleeding neck. When asked who did this to him, the victim yelled, “Francisco Delgado!” A female witness, who was present during the incident, initially refused to tell Yen anything about what had happened, but, after he accompanied her to her apartment within the complex, she proceeded to tell the officer what had occurred.
The witness told the officer she was in the shower around 6pm that evening when she heard the door open. She came out to find Mr. Delgado, her ex-boyfriend and father of her son. She had a restraining order against Delgado, but she told Yen that Delgado had a key to her home and would often show up at her house without her consent.
When she saw Delgado standing in her home, he proceeded to ask her with whom she was sleeping. She told Delgado to get out of her home, which he refused to do, and she then noticed that he was wearing blue nitrile gloves. Delgado next asked to see her cell phone, which she refused, and Delgado then took her phone from her and began searching through her text messages. Delgado took off the gloves at this point, to look through her phone. He found texts from a man, to whom Delgado had apparently asked her not to talk. This indicated to the defendant that the man had been coming over to her apartment late at night. He then asked her if she was sleeping with him. At some point throughout this encounter, Delgado struck the witness with what she believed to be her phone, on her face.
Delgado then proceeded to call the man associated with the text messages, one of his personal friends, on his own cell phone, while still holding on to his ex-girlfriend’s. Delgado asked, in a calm manner, if the man could come to the woman’s apartment to help him, Delgado, with something. The man agreed. After some time had passed, Delgado got impatient and called him again to find out where he was.
The female witness at that point said to Delgado that she had work soon, and she was going to be late, so she needed to call her place of employment. Delgado threw her his own cell phone to call her work. While she had the phone, it rang with an incoming call from the man who had exchanged texts, on her phone, with her. She told the officer that she wanted to pick up and warn him that Delgado was angry, but Delgado answered it before she could. After answering the call, Delgado opened the front door, where the man was standing, grabbed him by the neck, and dragged him inside. The two began a physical fight, with the woman asking them to stop, and they did. She then went into the back bedroom to get ready for work.
She continued to hear yelling from the front room so she went out to find the two men fighting again. In response, she opened the front door, in an attempt to make the men leave. At that point, she saw Delgado point something at the other man, through his hooded sweatshirt – something she claimed looked like a large gun. Delgado then accused the other man of sleeping with the woman. The man denied the accusation and looked to the woman for support.
Delgado, still angry, pointed the gun, through his sweatshirt, at both the woman and the other man, but at that point, the son of Delgado and the woman ran out into the room from the back bedroom. The woman grabbed him and brought him into the back bedroom, turning her back on the scene. She first heard, “ Oh s—, don’t f—– shoot me” from the other man, then she heard the sound of a chair breaking, and then another exclamation from the other man, “You just shot me!” She turned back around and saw the victim on the floor next to the broken chair, holding his neck. She said she did not think he had been shot because there was not much blood, but she did smell a “firecracker-y” smell. Officer Yen confirmed that this smell would be consistent with the sulfur smell that follows a gun being fired.
After this, both men ran out the front door, in opposite directions. The woman initially chased after Delgado because she thought he would hurt himself.
The woman told the police that Delgado had previously shown up at her house continually, without her consent, at times asking to see his son, and to inquire about her romantic relationships. She also stated that the welt on her right temple and red bump on her left cheek were from Delgado striking her.
After Officer Yen was dismissed, Ms. Holzapfel called a second witness, Officer Lilian Smith, to the stand. Smith has been an officer for about two years and she helped collect the evidence at the apartment of the female witness. Smith confirmed that they had found bullet casings on the dining room table and a bullet fragment on the floor underneath the table. She said they also found one blue nitrile glove in the hallway, and the other in the bedroom on a table. The glove was lying on top of a beanie, which contained several items including a knife, marijuana in a pill bottle, rolling papers and a lighter.
Next, Officer Ruben Esquibel, a police officer for about six years, was called as a witness. Esquibel was assigned to the shooting that had occurred, and he thus attempted to get a statement from the victim at the hospital on the night of the 28th, but the victim was too heavily sedated. Esquibel returned to the hospital the next day to collect the victim’s statement.
The victim said he had gotten a call from Delgado asking him to come to the female witness’ home because he needed to talk to him. The victim said he proceeded to walk to her apartment, which took him about 20 minutes, during which time Delgado called him three or four times to inquire about his whereabouts. Delgado told him to call him when he was outside. When he arrived, he called Delgado to let him know he was there and to ask him to bring a cigarette outside to smoke. Delgado opened the door, the victim said he inquired again about the cigarette, and Delgado then told him to come inside.
The victim said that he could sense that something was wrong when he stepped inside, and so he pulled out his cell phone and pretended to get a call, saying he needed to step outside to take it. At that point Delgado locked the door, rushed at him, and tackled him. The woman stepped in to break it up, and the fight stopped. Delgado tried to explain that nothing was going on between the two, but then Delgado pulled out a gun and pointed it alternately at the woman and the victim.
When pointing the gun at the woman, Delgado demanded that she open up her phone so he could see her text messages, alluding that if she did not, he would shoot her.
The victim described the moments before and during the shooting as chaotic, and said it happened very fast. He said he heard a gunshot and then felt pain in his right shoulder and back. He yelled, “You shot me!” to Delgado, told him to move, and then ran out of the house into the parking lot. He claimed he saw Delgado run out of the apartment shortly after, in the opposite direction. The victim described the gun used by Delgado as a black Glock 9 mm pistol.
Officer Esquibel then described the search he conducted of Delgado’s home. In his bedroom on the second floor, there were two closets. One contained a locked safe and the other a green military duffel bag containing an AR-15 in two pieces, with Delgado’s military uniforms underneath.
Esquibel took a second statement from the victim later on, and the man was able to describe the shooting in greater detail. He said he had been on the ground, trying to get back up, with his left hand by his face in anticipation of another attack. Delgado was standing above him, to his left, and he first tried to hit the victim with the gun – but he missed and that was when the gun went off. The victim said he felt pain in his neck but stayed still, waiting to see if Delgado was going to shoot him again. When he didn’t, the victim ran out the door to the parking lot, where he collapsed and asked others in the lot to call 911 for him.
The witness, in his first statement, had said that Delgado bought the 9mm gun from an unidentified female. However, later on, he said that he had brokered the deal between that female and Delgado. The woman worked for an older gentleman from whom she had stolen several guns. The victim hooked the two up and Delgado purchased the gun from her. It was later confirmed by the older gentleman who had had employed the female that he was missing a 9mm gun.
The defense attorney, Matthew Fregi, clarified that the victim, in his second statement, diverged by saying that the woman at the scene, in trying to break up the fight initially, began hitting Delgado. He also highlighted the differences between the victim’s two statements involving the other female, the one who had sold Delgado the gun used in the incident.
Next, Sergeant Greg Elliott was called to the stand, a police officer for over ten years. Elliott had talked to the female witness and had acquired the phone numbers of Delgado’s cell phone and the woman’s cell phone, which Delgado had taken with him. The police were able to track the location of the phones the next day to Delgado’s apartment.
The police obtained a search warrant for this residence, and Delgado’s mother, with whom he lived, showed the police his room. That was where the police found the items in the closets.
Delgado’s mother also told the officer that she had called the police previously because the female witness, the ex-girlfriend of Delgado, was vandalizing the property of Delgado’s current girlfriend and that the ex-girlfriend had also told Delgado he could not see his children anymore.
Later on, Delgado’s mother contacted the police and informed them that she wanted some cash Delgado had been keeping for her in the confiscated safe. She said she had talked to Delgado the previous night and he had reminded her she had the keys to the safe in her purse. The safe was unlocked and inside there was roughly $300 in a small pill bottle, and several boxes of ammunition. There was corresponding ammo for the three guns Delgado had been found to possess: the 9mm, the AR-15, and a .32 long revolver. A box of ammo where the 9mm was found had 15 rounds missing, and the shell found on the floor of the female witness’ apartment matched the shells within this box. The guns were all confirmed to belong to Delgado.
Fregi, in his cross-examination, clarified that there was a lot of ammo in the safe and there was not a corresponding firearm for each type.
In the closing arguments, Holzapfel attempted to show that this incident was indeed a deliberate and intentional attempt at murder. She claimed the event was cold and calculated: Delgado lured the victim to the premise where he had a loaded gun with 15 rounds in it, he stood over the victim and shot him at point-blank range in the neck, where all people know there is a pulse.
Fregi attempted to refute this claim of premeditation. He said that the victim and Delgado had been involved in a physical fight and the gun had gone off. He argued that the incident was an accidental discharge, and that there was no evidence for intent to kill.
Judge Samuel McAdam concluded the hearing by stating that the fact that the defendant had locked the door, with the victim inside, built the prosecution’s case. He concluded that there was sufficient evidence to determine that the prosecution was correct in identifying this incident as a willful, premeditated, deliberate attempt at murder. There was a holding order on all charges brought, and Mr. Delgado will have his arraignment date on February 26 at 9am.