Police Give Account of Day of Arrest of Dorsey


YoloCourt-12People’s Witnesses: Detective John Evans, Officer Alex Torres and, Officer Tony Dias

By Samantha Brill

The morning of October 7, 2016, brought the resumption of the case of the People v. Darnell Dorsey, Judge Paul Richardson presiding. Pursuant to Cal. Penal Code sections 273a and 273ab, Mr. Dorsey is being charged with assaulting and causing fatal injury to his girlfriend’s 20-month-old child, Cameron Morrison, in January of 2014. Deputy Public Defenders Martha Sequeira and Joseph Gocke represent Darnell Dorsey, while Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin represents the People.

The People started the morning off with calling Detective John Evans to the stand. Detective Evans was the officer who first interviewed Dorsey on January 23, 2014, at 7:20am. Det. Evans was working on this case for several months, along with the entire detective unit at Davis Police Department. During the duration of the investigation, the department would receive daily briefings on the progression of the case.

Detective Evans explained how, prior to the interview with Dorsey, he did background research on the defendant and on others involved in the case, such as Cameron’s mother. Det. Evans stated that, after the interview, he did interview other residents at the trailer park where Dorsey resided during the time of the event, but he never searched Dorsey’s residence.

Ms. Sequeira began the cross-examination for the defense. She questioned Det. Evans about his ICI (Institute of Criminal Investigation) 40-hour child abuse training from POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) that he had completed two weeks prior to the day in question.

This training program included training in child abuse, shaken baby syndrome, and sexual assault to minors. Giving examples of injuries to look for, going over previous cases, and giving the participants the tools to handle these scenarios helped Evans and fellow officers be better prepared for cases involving child abuse.

Det. Evans explained that this training focused four hours specifically on shaken baby situations. This also provided him with training on how to testify in court and how to interview suspects, along with ways to identify shaken baby – for example, bruising under the eyes. However, he had trouble remembering who the instructor of this course was and whether the instructor was a medical professional – but he assured the court that the instructor most likely was.

The defense continued to question the detective on whether or not the Davis PD had investigated any other leads other than Dorsey – such as why Cameron’s grandmother was never investigated, after finding out about her abusive history with Cameron’s mother when the latter was a young child. Detective Evans explained that he would have looked into other leads if anything ever presented itself, but nothing ever did.

The People conducted redirect with their witness by having Detective Evans make it clear to the court that he had been open to the possibility that someone else could be guilty of the charges Dorsey is accused of – however, Dorsey was their only suspect.

The People rested and Detective Evans was excused. The People then called Officer Alex Torres to the stand.

Officer Alex Torres has been an officer with the Davis PD for four years and was on patrol the night of January 22, 2014, when he was called to Cameron’s case and arrived at the Dutch Bros. coffee kiosk in Davis at 11:57pm where he met up with Corporal Pheng Ly.

Officer Torres laid out the events of that night by explaining that, after joining Cpl. Ly, they both went to the trailer where Dorsey was living to watch over it to make sure no one entered – because it was a potential crime scene. While there, they talked to the neighbors on either side of the trailer.

They were watching over the trailer until 4:30am on the 23rd of January, until Torres was relieved for about an hour, returning at 5:30am. Officer Torres continued his surveillance until around 7:30am, when he was relieved once again. He explained to the court that while he was watching over the trailer, no one left or came to the residence.

The People rested and the defense had nothing more to ask Officer Torres, so he was excused.

The People’s next witness, Officer Tony Dias, was then called to the stand.

Officer Dias has worked for the Davis PD for five years and was called to Davis Sutter Hospital in response to Cameron’s case the morning of the 23rd at 1:45am. While there, he took three photos of Cameron’s older brother (Dorsey’s son), who had bruising around his eye and his arm was in a cast.

The People showed Officer Dias the three photos, People’s Exhibits 25, 130, and 93 for identification and then showed the court.

Dias then explained how he was also a part of the evidence response team that searched the trailer at 9am that same day. While there, he was responsible for measuring the trailer and measuring the pieces of evidence that were found.

About a month later, he then used these measurements to make three diagrams of the trailer’s layout. These drawings, People’s Exhibit 11, 20, and 132 were shown to the witness for identification and then shown to the court. Officer Dias then went on to explain these drawings in more detail as the court was viewing them.

Friday Testimony Continues

By Mariel Barbadillo

After the morning recess, Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira cross-examined Officer Tony Dias. She asked the officer how many people investigated Mr. Dorsey’s home and how many of those officers were trained in crime scene investigation. Officer Dias said there were six or seven officers investigating the scene, two of whom had attended CSI school.

Because of the nature of this case being one of suspected child abuse, Officer Dias and the other officers searched the home specifically for items used to hurt a child, evidence of blood, or signs of neglect.

Ms. Sequeira then prompted Officer Dias to write a list of the evidence taken from Mr. Dorsey’s home. The list began with the category of “Instrumentation,” referring to potential instruments of child abuse. The only items in this category were Mr. Dorsey’s shoes, which the officer later said were found to be irrelevant to the case.

The second category was “Evidence of Injury,” which could include items with blood, cerebral fluid, or other bodily fluid. The officers took a blanket and a pair of children’s sweatpants, neither of which were found to be indicatory of child abuse. The officers also took a closet door with a dent and a potential fiber identified as human hair. However, the hair was not tested.

The defense asked about the appearance of the strand of hair. Officer Dias said the hair did not look like it belonged to Mr. Dorsey. He could not recall what Mr. Dorsey’s son’s hair looked like, and he had never seen Cameron’s hair, so he could not definitively say the hair did not belong to the children. Ms. Sequeira, however, pointed out the hair was long and most likely belonged to a woman.

The prosecution’s next witness was Detective Joshua Helton from the Davis Police Department. In 2014, he was an officer in the department’s Evidence Response Team (ERT). The ERT was created in 2013 to improve the department’s response to major crimes.

On January 23, 2014, Det. Helton received a call at seven in the morning to prepare for an investigation with the ERT. This was the first major case for the ERT since its inception.

Det. Helton arrived at Mr. Dorsey’s home at nine in the morning, and he approximated that the search lasted about 10 to 12 hours. Before carrying out the search warrant, the detective did a protective sweep, which he recorded with a GoPro camera. The prosecution proceeded to play footage of Mr. Dorsey’s home, captured from Det. Helton’s camera.

After the lunch break, Det. Helton continued his testimony. He said he could not recall if he collected evidence from the home himself, but he recalled that segments of walls were collected due to apparent damages.

The prosecution then presented photographs of those damages. One was found in the children’s bedroom, on the wall next to a mattress on floor. The other was on the closet door, which was also taken from the scene. The detective said the officers also removed the doors for the master bedroom and bathroom, though there were no defects on them.

During cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke presented the witness with a picture in which a bottle of NyQuil is visible on the kitchen counter in Mr. Dorsey’s home. Another image was a screenshot from the detective’s body camera, which appeared to show a tissue box and used tissues on the floor of the master bedroom.

With the doors gone, Mr. Gocke asked if it would be inaccurate for someone to say they later found new evidence because opening the door disturbed the scene. Det. Helton said he could not answer because he does not know what happened after he and the other officers left. He told Cameron’s grandfather’s wife, “EC,” that the house needed repair because portions of the walls were taken out and a power line was hit.

When asked about a bloody white T-shirt, Det. Helton said the officers did not remove such an item from the scene. It was two or three days later when the department was made aware of the shirt. However, after the shirt was found, they did not conduct a secondary search of the home or investigate the homes of any of Cameron’s family.

Mr. Gocke’s final question was whether or not any of the investigating officers were disciplined for overlooking evidence during their search of the crime scene. The detective said they were not, marking the conclusion of his testimony.


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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