Photo Lineup Snafu—Correct Defendant and Correct Vehicle?

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YoloCourt-20by Tiffany Yeh

On the night of the incident, in a crime photo lineup, the main victim in this case identified a different African American man as the perpetrator. The man identified by the victim on the night of the assault is different from the defendant in this case, Malcolm Harris, Jr.

Also, the vehicle that the victim identified on the night of the crime was a white Honda. The defendant and his female friend were in a silver Toyota.

Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino stated that the setting of this courtroom is “highly prejudicial” and “highly suggestive.” The victim did identify the defendant as the perpetrator of the crime but the defendant is wearing a striped jumpsuit and is in handcuffs.

Judge Paul K. Richardson is holding Harris to answer on robbery and assault with a deadly weapon charges, and an enhancement count of personal use of a firearm. Malcolm Harris, Jr., is being held to answer on the charges.

Ms. Pelochino is representing Harris. Deputy District Attorney Alvina Tzang is representing the prosecution.

The first prosecution witness was the main victim, who was a former Navy sailor. He identified the defendant in the courthouse, stating that it was the guy in the striped jumpsuit.

On November 23, 2015, at 10:15pm, the victim was sitting in a car with a female friend. The car was parked in front of his stepmother’s house.

The car was locked and the victim was sitting in the front passenger’s seat, the female friend was sitting in the driver’s seat, and the car was off, with the key in the ignition. The dome lights in the car were off. The female friend alerted the victim that she had seen a white car with its high beam lights go on and off.

The victim stated that he had ignored the high beam lights and the car outside. He did, however, notice the white car make a right at the intersection.

It was dark, and there was only a streetlight a few blocks away. The car drove by, and then later a man started walking toward the victim and his female friend.

When the approaching man was about five feet away, the victim noticed that the man had a white short-sleeved T-shirt over his head. Only the middle of the man’s forehead to his chin was shown and not covered by the shirt. The victim did not notice if the man was wearing anything under the shirt or if his stomach was exposed.

The man came over to the victim’s side of the car, pulling a 9 mm pistol from his waistband. With one hand, his right hand, the man held the gun parallel to the ground and yelled at them to open the door.

The female friend told the victim not to open the door. The man then continued yelling, this time telling them to give him all their stuff and comply. The windows of the car were all the way up.

The victim opened the door and gave the man his wallet. In it, there was a credit union card, U.S. Navy identification, Military Star Card, Social Security Card, and license.

The man then asked the female for her purse. At this point, the man hit the victim with the tip of the pistol, once. It cut the victim’s left cheekbone (requiring six stitches) and the middle of his nose. The man told them to give him their stuff.

They gave him the female’s watch. The man left the same way he had come.

The victim then ran to his stepmom’s house, called the stepmom’s boyfriend, and the stepmom’s boyfriend called the police. The victim described the man as pointing the gun at him the whole time, with the gun’s laser on him the whole time. He described the man as having a thin mustache, an African American around 24 years of age, and being 5 ft. 10 inches to around 6 ft. tall, with a slim build. The victim called to cancel his credit card about 20-30 minutes after the event, around when the officer arrived.

The next prosecution witness, an African American female, testified. She has been driving her grandmother’s silver 2000 Toyota for about a year or so.

She met Harris when they were both in high school. They had not talked much but, in October and November of 2015, they met up a total of ten or fewer times.

The very last day she saw Harris was on November 23. She hung out with him from 6pm-3am on that date. At 6pm of that date, she met up with him, picking the defendant up from a friend’s house in Sacramento. They went to a store, then to the houses of some of Harris’ family members (somewhere in Sacramento, she described). He was driving that night and she would wait in the car as he would go to his cousins’ houses in residential areas.

She described not being familiar with West Sacramento and the areas of Sacramento. At the friends’ or relatives’ houses, Harris would take an hour, sometimes longer, before coming back into the vehicle.

They went to a 7-Eleven, a Taco Bell and a gas station that night. She could not tell in which part of Sacramento the 7-Eleven and Taco Bell were. She was not sure the distance from Taco Bell to the residential area.

At the 7-Eleven, Harris went into the store and to the counter, asking the guy something, and he did not buy anything.

When they went to the Taco Bell, the card Harris used was denied and she described him putting it back in his wallet, and then he just used cash. They then visited another one of his family members, then went to a few stores.

Next they went to a gas station, then to some of Harris’ family members’ houses, and finally they went back to Harris’ place in Sacramento. She then drove back home in the Toyota at 3am.

During the whole trip, Harris had not changed his clothing. He had long hair at the time.

The last prosecution witness is Detective Eric Palmer. He is an investigator at the West Sacramento Police Department. He was investigating a robbery in West Sacramento in 2015, and a crime scene investigator contacted the victim, requiring the vehicle to be processed.

The victim’s bank stated that someone had attempted to use the victim’s card at a Taco Bell in West Sacramento. The victim’s military card was given to the drive-through Taco Bell by an anonymous citizen.

Officer Daniel Gill contacted the detective. He did not make contact with the person or persons in a parked vehicle at a 7-Eleven in West Sacramento, but he did run the license plate.

Within ten minutes of the detective posting about the robbery, Gill contacted the detective.

The detective contacted the manager at 7-Eleven. From surveillance footage, the defendant entered the 7-Eleven at 10:37pm and exited the store at 10:40pm. At the Taco Bell, they do not have footage of the drive-through window.

Judge Paul K. Richardson is holding Harris to answer on the robbery and assault charges, with an enhancement for personal use of a firearm.

The judge’s reasoning was that the courtroom setting, with the defendant in jail clothing, might well be suggestive, but that the defendant had long hair at the time of the crime, and now has short hair at the preliminary hearing. The victim did identify the defendant.

The time frame of the car’s arrivals at the various places that night fits in with the situation.

The victim’s military ID and other pieces of information were found by an anonymous person and given to a Taco Bell employee at the time.

The car that the officers were looking for at the time was a white car, while the defendant’s acquaintance’s car was silver. For the purposes of this preliminary hearing, the judge said this was “close enough.”

DPD Pelochino requested the defendant be let out on bail, as he is only 20 years old, his father is here, and both parents would like him to be at home. The defendant has only faced juvenile convictions, no adult convictions. He had appeared for his warrant.

Due to the nature of the charges, as the victim had been cut on his left cheekbone, suffering a gash and swelling, and because of the fear instilled in the victim, the court denied the request for bail.

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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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