by Ryan Gonzales
In the afternoon of September 27, 2016, the case of the People v. Darnell Dorsey resumed with Judge Paul Richardson presiding. Pursuant to Cal. Penal Code sections 273a and 273ab, Darnell Dorsey is charged with assaulting and inflicting deadly injury upon his girlfriend’s 20-month-old child, Cameron Morrison.
Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira continued the cross-examination of “PC Sr.,” grandfather of Cameron. Ms. Sequeira examined the statements made by PC Sr. to detectives.
PC Sr. had explained to detectives that he had never witnessed abusive behavior by Dorsey toward Cameron or his older half-brother, “J.” PC Sr. said that if there were any signs of abuse, he would have “done something about it.” He later explained that at no time during the interviews with the detectives did he change his opinion of Darnell Dorsey not being abusive.
Next, Ms. Sequeira questioned PC Sr. about the relationship between “VR” (the victim’s mother) and “M” (the victim’s biological father). He stated that “like most relationship they had problems,” and M had been abusive to VR when they were together. However, he explained that VR never approached him with concerns of abusive behavior by Mr. Dorsey.
Ms. Sequeira ended the cross-examination by raising the notion that there was a period of time that TR (the victim’s grandmother) was abusive to PC Sr.’s children and that she suffered from drug addiction. He responded that he had once received a phone call from one of his daughters that there was no food in the house and that he believed that TR’s living standards were not suitable for children.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin began the redirect examination of PC Sr. Ms. Serafin asked if he knew that VR started taking J and Cameron to TR for babysitting when Mr. Dorsey started school. He responded in the negative. However, he opposed the times when he knew of VR taking the children to their grandmother’s place, because he did not know of TR’s “situation or condition.”
When asked about VR’s response to his objections, he stated that she said, “Don’t worry about it dad, everything is okay.”
Ms. Serafin questioned PC Sr.’s concerns regarding TR. At that point, PC Sr. was overwhelmed with emotions, stating that he became prejudiced against TR from their past experiences that involved his children, and that he was just being “overprotective” of his grandchildren. Yet, when questioned about VR’s arrangements to take the children to their grandmother, he stated that he trusted her decision.
Next, the prosecution began to show PC Sr. a series of photographs, which he described as bruises on J’s back. As PC Sr. began to grieve over the photos, Ms. Serafin queried whether he had a different opinion about Darnell Dorsey. He answered no, and that he just regretted not being more active in the children’s lives. Ms. Serafin concluded the redirect examination of PC Sr.
Ms. Sequeira began the re-cross examination. She questioned PC Sr. about whether he knew how the bruises ended up on J’s body, and if he believed that they were inflicted by abusive treatment. PC Sr. responded no to both questions. Ms. Sequeira followed up with the notion that he simply was crying because he was the children’s grandfather and had an emotional attachment to them. He answered yes, as well as stating, “I wish I had more time with them.”
Ms. Sequeira ended the re-cross with the statement that Ms. Serafin had shown the photographs to PC Sr. before, thus it was not surprising that he had such an emotional reaction. PC Sr. responded that it was not surprising.
PC Sr. was dismissed, subject to recall.
The second witness to testify was AC, the daughter of PC Sr. and TR. The prosecution began the direct examination of AC by inquiring about her whereabouts during the night that Cameron Morrison was admitted to the hospital. AC stated that she was living with her parents, but she had snuck out of the house on the night of January 22, 2014. When questioned about where she went, AC stated that she went to a hot tub with her boyfriend, but returned when she received a phone call from her mother that Cameron was not breathing. AC later stated that she went to bed when her father called her, saying, “Things are looking better.” The prosecution ended their examination.
Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke conducted a very brief cross-examination of AC. He asked AC if she had spoken to the Davis Police Department on January 23, 2014, to which she answered yes. Also, he asked if she saw any signs of an abusive relationship between Mr. Dorsey and the children, to which she answered no.
The defense concluded the cross-exam and AC was dismissed.
The final witness was PC Jr., son of PC Sr. and TR. Ms. Serafin began by examining the family relationships of PC Jr. When asked about his relationship with VR, PC Jr. stated that he was “very close with both his sisters.” Additionally, PC Jr. testified that his relationship with his nephews (J and Cameron) were also close, that he loved them.
Next, Ms. Serafin questioned PC Jr. on how he would describe the parental interactions between Darnell Dorsey and the boys, J and Cameron. PC Jr. said, “He was a good father, he treated Cameron and J equally.” However, the prosecution asked if PC Jr. remembered telling an officer that “he (Darnell Dorsey) wasn’t a nurturing father towards Cameron.” PC Jr. responded that the statement may have been made out of anger and he meant that Darnell Dorsey didn’t have a biological tie or connection to Cameron (whereas J is Mr. Dorsey’s biological son).
At the time Cameron went to the hospital, PC Jr. stated that he was sleeping when he woke up to a phone call from his mother, TR. Then he described that he tried to wake up his sister, but she was a “heavy sleeper” and wouldn’t move, so he went downstairs to get in the car with his mother and her friend to drive to Sutter Davis Hospital
As they arrived at the hospital, PC Jr. testified that he went straight to J and brought him to a hallway, where they talked for about 30 seconds. PC Jr. said that, after talking to J, he went outside to his father and mother, who were talking to a detective. No more than 30 seconds after that, he walked back into the emergency room.
Ms. Serafin prompted PC Jr. to describe what he saw when he entered the emergency room. PC Jr. stated that he saw a “shut off” Darnell Dorsey and an “agitated” TR in a conversation. When the prosecution asked what he did then, PC Jr. stated that he “went up to them and gave them my two cents.”
Ms. Serafin asked PC Jr. to describe the situation that unfolded after he confronted Dorsey and TR. PC Jr. stated that they got into a “finger pointing” argument and that he said something to Dorsey, and Dorsey responded and began walking toward him. However, he stated that there was no physical altercation because PC Sr. and police officers prevented anything physical from occurring.
Ms. Serafin inquired what occurred after Cameron had passed. PC Jr. stated that he was at the UCD Med Center in Sacramento when Cameron died, but took the advice of his stepmother to go clean VR’s house, in an effort to help his sister. Ms. Serafin asked what happened when he went to go clean the house. PC Jr. responded that he found a child-sized bloody shirt under a pile of clothes in the master bedroom. When asked what he did then, PC Jr. stated that he called his mother then the police, and proceeded to put the shirt in a plastic bag to take to the police station.
Next, PC Jr. testified that he took the bloody shirt to a female police officer and explained his situation. Ms. Serafin asked PC Jr. if there was a second shirt, and he stated that no there was no second shirt.
After these statements, Ms. Serafin showed the witness People’s Exhibit 65, and asked him if he recognized the shirt in the photograph. PC Jr. had difficulty identifying the shirt because it was crumpled up. Then Serafin ask PC Jr. to identify the People’s Exhibit 52A, however, he was unable to recognize it. As to why he could not identify the shirt, PC Jr. explained that the shirt was a grown adult shirt, and the one he found in VR’s house was a child’s size shirt.
Ms. Serafin asked PC Jr. if he could recall giving a second shirt, described as Darnell Dorsey’s, to the police officer. PC Jr. responded negatively. However, after Ms. Serafin gave the transcripts of police statements to PC Jr. to review, he concluded that the period of time between finding the shirt and going to the police station was so short that the transcripts are truthful.
During the re-cross examination, Ms. Sequeira opened with the statement that PC Jr. is accustomed to lying to the police. PC Jr. responded, stating that he “doesn’t think that he has lied to a police officer.” However, Ms. Sequeira brought forth the notion that, during an investigation of PC Jr.’s 1st degree robbery charge, for which he currently is on probation, he claimed that he did not commit the crime.
Then, Ms. Sequeira questioned PC Jr.’s memory of the night that Cameron Morrison was admitted into the hospital. She stated that, from PC Jr.’s testimony, he ran into his sister’s room while talking on the phone and shook her repeatedly for 30 seconds, but had no success in waking her. Ms. Sequeira then asked, “Did you think she was dead?” PC Jr. responded that she was just a heavy sleeper.
The session ended with PC Jr. stating that, if there had been any suspicion of an abusive relationship between Darnell and the two children, he would have done something.