Shoplifting Trial Wraps Up in Yolo County Court

YoloCourt-5by Prince Sahota

Witnesses Testify in Shoplifting Trial

The trial of Delvonte Slaughter reconvened with the testimony of an eyewitness, West Sacramento police officers and a crime scene investigator.  The prosecution of the defendant follows a shoplifting incident at Capital City Loan & Jewelry on April 27, 2015.

The prosecutor questioned “Mr. S,” the regional manager of four stores at the time of the incident. He declared that the stolen goods could be identified by a laser cut serial number, and a sticky tag listing an inventory number.  The prosecutor discussed People’s Exhibit 10, a document listing which items were taken (and not taken) from this pawn shop’s jewelry show case.  The replacement value of the items in total was $36,000.

Next “DS,” a police officer with the West Sacramento Police Department, described the video surveillance of the incident after it took place.  He described some manager, who happened to resemble the regional manager.  He agreed that a video depicting the incident from two angles had the clearest images.  They included a visual of the defendant’s arm tattoo, showing “AFNF” on his forearm.   The defense argued that the tattoo was a cultural acronym and name of a hip-hop song.

“LP,” an employee on the date of the incident, testified in court about his firsthand account of the alleged shoplifting.  His testimony was contingent on his drawing over People’s Exhibit 4.  This was a white board drawing of the jewelry store on April 27, 2015.  He explained that the defendant walked from the front door of the business to the store’s business window to pawn a necklace.  When LP explained to the defendant that the chain was not valuable, he said that he saw the defendant walk to the jewelry case to the right.  LP subsequently heard a sound as he walked toward the jewelry case, and he remembers seeing the defendant motioning toward the door.  He said he saw the glass off of the frame.

On cross-examination by defense, the employee stated that he could not see the jewelry case from the window where he was working.  He admitted that he worked at multiple stores so he could not have remembered every single regular piece of jewelry.  He noted that a pendant that had allegedly been stolen was a cross pendant and was a very common item.  He noticed that the defendant had grown out his hair since the incident.

People’s Exhibit 1 showed the allegedly stolen pendant made of white and yellow diamonds.  Following this, a photo revealed that the defendant left in an SUV.

A second West Sacramento police officer testified about his actions on April 27, 2015.  At 5:57 p.m.  he was dispatched to Capital City Loan & Jewelry. He too reviewed video surveillance. Then he made a preliminary report, which was forwarded to detectives.

“PT,” a crime scene investigator with the West Sacramento Police Department, testified.  She specializes in obtaining fingerprints.  She attested that a non porous surface is the best for obtaining fingerprints.  She used biochromatic powder to get a fingerprint image.  The print specialist said that she used red tape to tear a print from the glass case surface from which the defendant supposedly took property.  She associated the prints with the defendant because the police provided his identity.  The fingerprints were submitted to ALPS (Automated Latent Print System) fingerprint data base.  That concluded testimony for the day, with the trial scheduled to resume the following day.

Expert Testimony and Closing Arguments in Shoplifting Trial

The trial of Delvonte Slaughter concluded with expert witness testimony and closing arguments on June 16, 2016.  The trial is taking place with the defendant accused of stealing jewelry from Capital City Loan & Jewelry on April 27, 2015.  The defendant is charged as follows: Burglary according to Penal Code section 459 et seq., grand theft consistent with Penal Code section 487, and a lesser included charge of petty theft.

The judge brought in the jury at 9:30 a.m.  The defense lawyer called his expert witness “CL.”  He specializes in the analysis and comparison of latent fingerprints in ALPS with the Department of Justice.  He testified that he took a right hand print from the glass case located in the store.  He testified that he had a sample of six lift cards, five of which did not resemble the defendant’s fingerprints, and one attributed to a third person “AY.”  The defense’s main argument in this case was that the prosecution could not identify the defendant as the culprit, and that “AY” stole the jewelry.

The prosecutor presented a closing argument. He compared facts to jury instructions, summarizing the charges starting with the elements required to be present to convict of burglary. He argued that the defendant entered the pawn shop with the intent to steal.  He used video surveillance to make his point.  He said that the defendant entered the pawn shop.  He further stated that the defendant intended to commit theft, because he walked directly to the store case when he could not get money for his necklace at the business window.  He noted that the cross pendant’s resale value was $4,995.  He described that the defendant was conscious of his guilt, because he left the scene after he stole property.

Next, the prosecutor argued that the defendant met the elements of grand theft.  He described that the defendant took property.  He showed a photo of the defendant wearing the pendant piece. He told the jury that rings taken from the pawn shop were not returned.  He wanted to argue that the victimized store was deprived of property either permanently, or so long that the store was deprived of use and enjoyment of the jewelry.

He returned to an in-court statement made by a witness “LB.”  LB was working on the day the of the incident and claimed to have observed the physical appearance of the defendant.  He observed that the defendant had grown out his hair since the week of the incident and being arrested.

The prosecutor noted that the defendant had a tattoo reading AFNF on his right forearm, which was identical to the tattoo of the suspect in the video surveillance.  He asked for a burglary and grand theft verdict.

The defense lawyer made an argument to the jury following the prosecutor.  He said that this was racial profiling, because an African American was the suspect in the case, and the defendant happened to appear to be African American.

Concerning witness “PT,” the crime scene investigator with the West Sacramento Police Department, the defense pointed out that the footage showed an individual walking up to the pawn shop window then disappearing for 90 seconds, and then showed an individual stealing property from the glass case.

The defense lawyer declared that witness and former employee “LB” could not observe the defendant commit any crime.  Firstly, he said the witness’ memory was unclear since he testified 13 months after the incident.   The defense lawyer said the witness was so preoccupied with the defendant’s piece of jewelry and the line of customers that it was impracticable for him to see the defendant.  He pointed out that the witness described a 5 ft. 8 in. suspect to police, while the defendant was 5 ft.11 in. tall.  He argued that the witness could not properly identify the defendant because cross-racial identification is not accurate.  He wanted to make it clear that he didn’t mean to characterize the witness as a liar.

The defense lawyer declared that a document listing the jewelry stolen did not resemble the prosecutor’s claim of what was stolen.  He contended that “PT” obtained fingerprints which did not match his client’s.

The prosecutor was given his traditional last word to the jury, his rebuttal, to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. He argued that the defendant’s behavior proved intent to commit burglary. The defendant walked to the window to scope out the employee’s ability to see him steal.  After seeing an island obstructing the view of the glass jewelry case, he was ready to commit the crime.

The prosecutor recognized that the pivotal issue in this case was identity.  He declared that the defendant’s clothing, including a white shirt, jeans and jewelry were the same as the suspect in the pawn shop video.  He specified that the defendant was wearing his own green ring, just like the suspect in the surveillance footage.  With that, the judge turned the case over to the jury for deliberation.

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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