by Jade Wolansky
Alejandro Loza Quezada’s preliminary hearing reconvened for its fifth day on August 2, 2016, at 1:30pm in Department 8. Three witnesses testified during the hearing.
Mr. Quezada’s girlfriend was the first to testify. She had been recalled for questioning to review the events leading up to the shooting death of Geovanny Gomez on July 1, 2016, in Woodland.
The prosecutor, Deputy DA Kyle Hasapes, asked her several questions on what Quezada had told her about the shooting. The witness answered with uncertainty. When questioned about Quezada’s interaction with a passenger of the victim’s car, she stated: “Alex tried to calm him down…Now I’m just getting all mixed up. I won’t make assumptions again.” At this point, the witness began to tear up.
Throughout the questioning, the defendant’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira, objected to the prosecutor’s questions. She stated that Mr. Hasapes’ questioning was hearsay and needed foundation.
Ms. Sequeira also stated that Hasapes’ questioning was argumentative. Mr. Quezada joined in and said “argumentative” loud enough for the court to hear.
Judge Reed halted the preliminary proceeding and advised Quezada to not speak loudly enough for the court to hear him. He informed Quezada that he would lose his client-attorney privilege otherwise.
Jeff Raven, the witness’ attorney, also objected to the prosecutor’s questioning. He stated that he was concerned that the witness was answering questions incorrectly due to her nervousness. Judge Reed turned to Mr. Raven and denied Mr. Raven’s request. He admonished Mr. Raven and informed him that he was not permitted to address the court. Ms. Sequeira commented that perhaps Mr. Raven was concerned that the witness would be accused of perjury because of her incorrect statements. Judge Reed replied that if the witness was having trouble answering questions, she could be asked later if she wanted to correct or clarify any previous answers.
Soon after, the witness began to tear up, so Judge Reed called for a 15-minute break.
The next witness to come to the stand was Detective Tamara Pelle, a detective for the Woodland Police Department. She stated that she had commissioned video surveillance footage from Big 5 and was asked to identify the timeframe certain ammunition was bought. She testified that she saw two females enter the store at Big 5. They had bought 9mm Luger ammunition, which was identified to be the same type of ammunition that was found with Quezada’s gun.
The last witness brought in for questioning was Detective John Ney, an investigator for the Yolo County Gang Task Force. During the previous two testimonies, he sat at the counsel table next to Mr. Hasapes. He stated that he specialized in gang crime cases.
He said that he had also spoken to several witnesses related to the homicide incident, including a passenger in the victim’s car. He stated that the passenger had several tattoos, including an X and a three, and that he believed Quezada to be a “buster.” Detective Ney revealed that the passenger admitted to being a member of the Sureño street gang.
Detective Ney stated that he had spoken to Mr. Quezada’s girlfriend on July 8 and July 20 and that both interviews had been recorded.
Subsequently, Det. Ney recounted information he had gained from his interviews with Quezada’s girlfriend.
Detective Ney stated that Quezada’s girlfriend had said that Quezada and his associates used the letter B and the name “Boza.” Ney believed that Boza referred to “Bosque,” a Woodland gang. Ney said that Quezada’s girlfriend knew Quezada sold drugs. This is because, when Quezada’s associates would visit, they would go to another room and close the door for privacy.
The defense attorney began her cross-examination. Ms. Sequeira first asked if Detective Ney had hijacked Quezada’s girlfriend. Ney said he believed so, and that they had brought her into the Woodland Police Department.
The defense asked if Det. Ney had asked Quezada’s girlfriend whether she was afraid of answering questions. Ney replied no.
Ms. Sequeira then proceeded to the core of her attack against Detective Ney.
She accused Det. Ney of summarizing, rather than using Quezada’s girlfriend’s exact words. Ney admitted to this.
Ms. Sequeira stated Detective Ney’s possible reasons for summarizing. She pointed to Ney’s frequent use of the word “associate.” Ms. Sequeira announced that the word “associate” is part of the language used for gang enhancement charges, and that it has nefarious meaning. She asked why Detective Ney did not used the word “friend,” as Mr. Quezada’s girlfriend would have. Ney, caught off-guard, stated he had no ill intent.
Ms. Sequeria then accused Detective Ney of lacking foundation and writing assumptions in his statement.
She cited about when Ney said Quezada’s girlfriend knew Quezada sold drugs. Ms. Sequeira asked Detective Ney if he had specifically asked Quezada’s girlfriend whether she had actually seen Mr. Loza exchange drugs for money. Ney admitted he did not ask. Ms. Sequeira proceeded to other examples where Ney also admitted that he did not confirm his assumptions.
At one point, Detective Ney said he was unable to confirm some of Quezada’s girlfriend’s statements because she was “all over the place.” Ms. Sequeira then asked if Ney believed Quezada’s girlfriend to be afraid, nervous and intimidated. Detective Ney admitted that she was afraid and nervous, but not intimidated.
Unlike his replies to the prosecutor’s questions, Detective Ney was unable to provide full answers to Mrs. Sequeria’s questions.
The defense finished her cross-examination for the day by asking the court for Detective Ney’s recording of his interviews with Mr. Quezada’s girlfriend by the nexr day. She had asked before, however, the prosecutor had said that this would not be possible.
Mr. Quezada’s preliminary hearing will reconvene on August 3, 2016, at 1:30pm.