by Tiffany Yeh
All six co-defendants (who had been indicted by a grand jury) in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Peter Gonzales at KetMoRee Thai Restaurant & Bar in Davis, and their attorneys, were present at the planned arraignment. The defendant’s names are: Martyn Alex Contreras, Joseph Gregory Sandeno, Zackary Thomas Sandeno, Victor Manuel Vergara, Carlos Biviescas, and Anthony Daniel Rivera.
They were set to be arraigned today (May 6, 2016). Several issues presented themselves and the arraignment date has been continued to May 16, 2016, at 8:30am.
Conflict attorney John Spangler asked whether Victor Vergara, his client, would face capital punishment in this case. The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, represented by Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton, stated that they would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Vergara in this case.
Attorney Vincent Maher, who is representing Martyn Alex Contreras, expressed his wish to file an ex parte motion (only affecting his client, not others) to appoint counsel at public expense for his client. Judge David Rosenberg expressed the viewpoint that the above motion is generally not frequently approved.
Attorney John J. Casey, III, moved to withdraw from representing Carlos Biviescas, and sought that a new attorney be appointed. Conflict panel attorney Jeff Raven was appointed as Biviescas’ new attorney. Mr. Raven disclosed that previously he had been appointed counsel to co-defendant Mr. Rivera’s, but he had only met with Mr. Rivera once (when Rivera was in jail), and that Rivera’s family decided at that time to hire a private attorney instead of Mr. Raven.
Additionally, Attorney Tim Pori protested to the judge about the cameras in the courtroom. At least one large professional-grade camera was present in the courtroom to take pictures of the day’s proceedings and, also, at least three media journalists from different sources/companies were present.
Judge David Rosenberg stated that this is a public courtroom and there has already been coverage of this case, including photographs of all the defendants, available online. He stated that Mr. Pori could lodge an objection to the media’s photography of the proceeding.
Mr. Pori, the attorney representing Anthony Rivera, also expressed his objection to Jeff Raven’s appointment as new counsel for Carlos Biviescas. The judge stated that Mr. Pori could submit a motion with declaration regarding his sentiments on the new counsel.
Conflict attorney Rod Beede requested that the release of the grand jury transcript to all counsel in this case be expedited. Judge Rosenberg agreed with that reasoning and ordered the transcripts to be released to all counsel immediately.
The arraignment date, as indicated, is continued to May 16, 2016, at 8:30am.