by Tiffany Yeh
Officer Anthony Herrera, a detective with the West Sacramento Police Department, testified in the Lovett trial today as both a fact witness and an expert on criminal street gangs. Defendant Eric Lovett is charged with accessory to attempted murder, dissuading a witness, and gang enhancements; the latter charge was added.
Officer Herrera described the alleged “threatening” gestures that had occurred during the original preliminary hearing, along with his remembering the supposed story and interview he had with Liberty Landowski, a co-defendant in the original trial.
Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson questioned Officer Herrera on his prior testimony in the first preliminary hearing in the old Woodland courthouse. He again discussed the alleged gestures made by Eric Lovett toward victim Ernie Sotelo during the preliminary hearing.
Officer Herrera described a bailiff gesturing to another bailiff, who gestured to Officer Herrera to look at Lovett’s demeanor during the original preliminary hearing. He described noticing that Lovett (who was sitting in the jury box) would “sit back and lean forward” in his seat a couple of times.
Officer Herrera described Lovett as making the alleged hand gesture “about ten times” during the preliminary hearing and showed the court what the gesture, a motion with one finger cutting across the neck, looked like.
Officer Herrera did the motion five or six consecutive times as a demonstration, with an almost comedic effect on those watching the trial today. Officer Herrera described Sotelo, who was testifying at the time and seated in the witness box, as not noticing what was going on.
According to Officer Herrera, Liberty Landowski came into the West Sacramento Police Department on Sept. 10, 2015, to fill out a form for her gang registration. Officer Herrera, Officer Matthew Boudinot, and Officer Louis Cameron were all present in the interrogation room of the police department during Liberty Landowski’s gang registration.
Officer Herrera stated that only he and Landowski were present when Liberty Landowski allegedly told the officer what occurred after the shooting. Officer Herrera asked her where Michael Reyes went after the shooting occurred.
He described Landowski at this point as becoming teary-eyed and crying after that particular question, and that she said she was scared and she didn’t want to testify.
Judge Maguire at this point told the jury that the following part is not for the truth of what was said.
Officer Herrera stated that Liberty Landowski said that Reyes jumped back in the car with her. He stopped her with a question when Landowski mentioned that Lovett was in the car.
Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira objected to the mention of that statement because it was hearsay.
Officer Herrera continued, stating that Landowski stated that she let Lovett back into the car and then took Michael Reyes and Eric Lovett back to “Bird’s” house. She said that it began when, the night before, the three (her, Reyes, and Lovett) were hanging out and Reyes wanted to go get some methamphetamine. Reyes said hold on, when he jumped out of the passenger side of the car and had a gun. The officer said that Landowski said that Lovett was pushing the back of her seat (she was driving the Mustang), telling her to let him go out of the Mustang. She did not see, only heard the shooting happen. Then both of them got back in and they all went to Bird’s house.
Interestingly, Officer Herrera described Detective Cameron as repeatedly asking Liberty Landowski where the Mustang (the car during the shooting) was, to which Liberty Landowski replied that it was gone and no one would ever see it again.
The interrogation room has audio and video recording capability but the exchange with Liberty Landowski was not recorded. Officer Herrera’s answer to that is that gang registration proceedings in the police department (of filling out the forms, with the officers and registrant present) are never recorded at all. That, and because, he stated, that Liberty Landowski could get hurt if the information gets out and that she could be stabbed, shot, or killed for snitching or talking.
On December 10, 2015, Officer Herrera testified during the Lovett proceeding. Only Sergeant Jason Winger, and Officers Herrera, Cameron and Boudinot knew about Liberty Landowski’s story about what happened before, during, and right after the shooting.
According to Officer Herrera, only after he got subpoenaed by Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira and talked with his sergeant did he remember about the conversation he had with Liberty Landowski.
Something Sgt. Winger said had triggered Officer Herrera to remember the conversation with Liberty Landowski. The sergeant advised Officer Herrera to call Deputy DA Robin Johnson. After that phone call, Officer Herrera wrote a report in March 2016 about the alleged conversation he had with Liberty Landowski, five months after the conversation he had the supposed conversation with Landowski.
Officer Herrera described being able to see Eric Lovett’s Google Plus page after seeing “Eric Broderick” as a contact in Liberty Landowski’s friends list. A picture of Lovett with a gang hand sign was on the profile of “Eric Broderick.”
Officer Herrera then listed some gangs in West Sacramento, and in particular described the Broderick Boys as a subset of the Norteños. He then proceeded to describe the hand gestures of the Broderick Boys and the symbols that the Broderick Boys and Norteños frequently use in tattoos and graffiti. He described the number “14,” the Boston “B,” “BRK,” and the color red as a main color.
Some descriptions of Broderick Boys members investigated by Officer Herrera were discussed by DDA Johnson.