Gang Preliminary Hearing Resumes

YoloCourt-26By Misha Berman

During the afternoon in Department 13 on Thursday March 3, 2016, the preliminary hearing for Defendant Francisco Javier Estrella reconvened. There was witness testimony from Officer Darryl Moore, a Woodland police officer and part of the gang task force for Yolo County.

Officer Moore believed that Mr. Estrella might be in a gang because he has communicated with people who are in known to be in gangs, such as “Richard M.” and “Sam R.”

Officer Moore said that in 2013 there was a warrant for an investigation of Richard M. involving a “shooting.”

“Richard M. was not involved, just lived in the apartment and Sam R. was not involved,” said Moore.

According to Officer Moore, Mr. Estrella was not involved in the shooting but was present at the site when it happened.

“He knows they are gang members because another officer said they were,” said Officer Moore.

According to Moore, his conclusion and belief that Estrella was a gang member was based on talks he had with other investigators who believed that Estrella was in a gang. He did not base his conclusion on “tattoos” or “red clothing.” Officer Moore said that his conclusion was solely based on “Facebook material” and people with whom Estrella communicated.

Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira asked the officer if he questioned Estrella about what he thought transpired. Officer Moore said, “Sure.”

“If Mr. Estrella said his perspective and said something to explain why he was there, would you be convinced Mr. Estrella is not a gang member?” asked Ms. Sequeira.

Officer Moore said that this would not convince him.

“Does being a gang member make you lose your rights to defend yourself?” queried Ms. Sequeira.

Officer Moore said it does not. Ms. Sequeira then asked if he knew of Mr. Estrella before the event. Officer Moore said no, and he also said that he never examined Mr. Estrella’s “rap sheet,” so he is not sure if Estrella has a “criminal history.” He said that he only assumed he is part of a gang “based on his contacts with law enforcement,” even though he did not know his “criminal history.”

“I depend on patrol officers to fill out ‘FI’ cards,” asserted Officer Moore.

Ms. Sequeira showed him Mr. Estrella’s FI (field interview) card and said that the “gang box” was not checked off. She also showed him pictures and asked whether the pictures indicated that Mr. Estrella is in a gang. Officer Moore said no.

According to Moore, besides what happened at this event, Estrella did not have other “altercations” with different gang members. Ms. Sequeira then asked if Moore knew where Mr. Estrella attended high school, and Moore said no.

Sequiera then asked if Moore ever spoke with people who knew Estrella. Officer Moore said he spoke to two people who went to high school with Estrella, and the nature of the conversation was the fact that they were arrested for a marijuana lab and selling rifles, and they also said they talked to Mr. Estrella on Facebook.

“I never talked to them about Mr. Estrella,” said Moore.

Officer Moore also said that Estrella had no involvement in the past “violent acts” by the gang that he believes thinks Mr. Estrella is in.

“I have no idea how Mr. Estrella knows these two people,” said Moore.

“Did you know I represented these two people for a petty defendant case?” asked Ms. Sequeira.

Officer Moore said that he didn’t, and he also responded that he would have been able to figure out how Mr. Estrella knew these two people but he never tried to figure it out. Officer Moore was then excused.

Judge Paul Richardson said this case will reconvene on March 25, 2016, at 8:30am.

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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  1. Tia Will

    Maybe I am missing something, but it would seem to me that based on the testimony of Officer Moore, there is absolutely nothing to demonstrate a connection of  Mr. Estrella to a gang. Will there be more future testimony making this link or is this just another I believe it because I believe it Yolo County “gang” case ?

    1. David Greenwald

      Unfortunately the one-day, two-weeks off prelim is not the best formula to enable use to fully cover that issue. My understanding is that there are some problems in this case, but we’ll have to see what they are.

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