Surprise Grand Jury Indictment in Woodland Murder Case

YoloCourt-23By Carla Arango

For the second time in a major murder case, the Yolo County DA’s office went the grand jury route, rather than with a more standard preliminary hearing.  That means that the five co-defendants never had a chance to see evidence or confront the evidence against them.

Two weeks ago, at the last hearing, the defense was trying to get to the Woodland Police Department to release video that led up to the death 41-year old Woodland resident Ronald Antonio. Antonio was stabbed at the Casa Del Sol Mobile Home Park on August 30, 2016.

The defense considered this evidence “very important evidence,” the cornerstone of the case.

But running up against speedy trial requirements and without waivers from the defendants for time, the DA’s office went the grand jury route, obtaining the indictment last week.

Justin Gonzalez and Alexis Velazquez face murder and gang charges.

Cynthia Tello, Vanessa Ramos, and Malinda Collins also appeared before Judge Daniel Maguire in Department 10. The defendants are charged with criminal street gang enhancements in connection with the murder.

All five defendants pleaded not guilty and are currently in custody without bail.

Defense attorney Ava Landers, representing Ms. Collins, said that because her client is no longer being charged with murder, she should be eligible for bail. In addition, defense attorney Philip Cozens said his client, Vanessa Ramos, has no prior record and that there is no evidence of gang membership. Mr. Cozens said that being set at no bail is a violation of her Constitutional rights.

During the hearing, defense attorneys discussed conflicts with the schedule and explained they needed more time to prepare for trial. Jonathan Raven, Chief Deputy District Attorney, said he had just been assigned to the case last Thursday and didn’t receive paperwork until this Tuesday. Mr. Raven said he would like more time in order to review the grand jury transcripts.

Roberto Marquez, Velazquez’s defense attorney, said he has four upcoming trials and would also appreciate the extra time. The court found good cause to not set a trial date within 60 days.

Judge Maguire said he didn’t want to prolong it by too much, and set another hearing for November 2 at 10a.m. Bail will be discussed at that time. The jury trial is expected to begin sometime in mid-2017, but an exact date has not been set.

The Vanguard has requested the grand jury transcripts in this case.

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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