By Gloria Ho
On February 1, 2017, Judge David Rosenberg presided over the jury trial of the People v. Paul Keola in Department 14. The defendant, Paul Robert Keola, is being represented by Deputy Public Defender Sally Fredericksen, with Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo representing the People.
Defendant Paul Keola, 53, is being charged with, among other things, attempted murder per Penal Code sections 187(a), 21a and 664; Penal Code section 245(a)(1), any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument; Penal Code section 273.5(a)(1) and (b)(2), infliction of corporal injury resulting in traumatic condition on cohabitant; and Penal Code section 422, any person who will willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person with the specific intent that the statement is to be taken as a threat.
On September 4, 2016, the victim, “BC,” met up with her former boyfriend, Mr. Keola, at a liquor store. They drank together and the defendant asked BC where she was staying. She told him that she was staying at the Crest Motel, located in West Sacramento, but said that Mr. Keola couldn’t come to her place because the motel manager did not allow a second person to live in the room. They separated and BC went back to the Crest Motel that night.
BC decided to barricade the room with the mini-refrigerator as a precaution, because she was afraid that the defendant would come around. The defendant and BC have a history of domestic violence together, and she had a restraining order against him. BC saw the defendant when he was coming to her room and told him that he could not be there.
However, he got through the door and accused BC of sleeping with another man. Mr. Keola allegedly started to hit her with his cane, and then his fists followed as he went for her face. She fell and he began kicking her approximately seven to nine times, and Mr. Keola picked up a steel pole. The defendant hit her about 10 times all over her body with the steel pole. At one point, he hit her in the head and rendered her unconscious. When she came to, she tried to climb out of the window and escape, but he closed the window on her left hand, bit her forearm, held her to the floor, and told her he was going to kill her.
The jury trial resumed with the People calling one of their seven witnesses for the day to testify.
Allison Jerwers, a trauma nurse practitioner at UC Davis Medical Center, took the stand. Ms. Jerwers has been working at UCDMC in Sacramento for five years and was there on the morning shift with BC on September 5, 2016. She said she was a mandatory reporter and had to report domestic violence in adults when she suspects it.
The People brought forth Exhibit 38, the suspect violence report, and showed it to the jury.
“Her former boyfriend broke into the motel room and assaulted her with fists and a pole,” Ms. Jerwers wrote in her suspect violence report, which she obtained when BC was coherent. The victim had told the trauma nurse that Mr. Keola assaulted her. Reading from the report, Ms. Jerwers proceeded to tell the court about the bruises, fractures, and abrasions on the victim’s face, extremities, and lower back, all of which were obtained from physical examination. BC had abrasions between her eyes and inside of her left arm, bruises on the lower area of her right leg and on her left hand, and fractures on her lower back and in her right arm.
BC was upset when Mr. Keola went to visit her at the hospital, when she did not want him to be there. She was afraid for him to be there. The victim feared further injury. Ms. Jerwers said that she alerted the nursing staff that Mr. Keola wasn’t allowed back.
The defense proceeded to cross-examine the witness. Ms. Fredericksen asked the witness about the alcohol use that was noted in People’s Exhibit 38. Ms. Jerwers said that she did document the conversation about alcohol use, which took around five to ten minutes, but didn’t recall anything about BC’s drug screen. The defense requested to show a two-page excerpt of BC’s medical record to Ms. Jerwers, which contained lab results. It was allowed, but Deputy DA Palumbo said beforehand that she would object to the reading of the medical record out loud.
“Was BC really drunk?” questioned Ms. Fredericksen. The witness said that BC did not seem intoxicated when she was talking to her.
The defense proceeded to ask about the alcohol level in the victim’s system when the People objected to the reading aloud of BC’s medical record. Judge Rosenberg sustained the People’s objection. After no further questions, Ms. Jerwers stepped down, subject to recall.
The next witness the People called was West Sacramento Officer Cameron Simpson. He’s been a police officer for 21 years and was dispatched to the Crest Motel in West Sacramento on July 16, 2016. The 911-call was about a disturbance in Room 111. They said that a female, BC, had shown up in their apartment and appeared to be intoxicated. When Officer Simpson arrived on the scene, BC told him she was drunk. The People’s witness told the court that BC was naked and had a black eye at the time.
“She had a blanket around her. She appeared to be naked. She also had a black eye,” Officer Simpson testified.
Officer Simpson said that he talked to BC and she told him that Paul Keola had struck her. BC had gone out to a friend’s house, then came back. When the defendant saw her, he used one of his fists and threw her out and locked her out of Room 117. She didn’t want him to go to jail, so she went to Room 111 to call Mr. Keola.
When the witness went to Room 117, he noted that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Keola was also nude and Officer Simpson asked him to put some pants on, with which he complied.
“Did you end up arresting Mr. Keola?” the defense asked the officer.
“Yes,” Officer Simpson replied. He said he saw bottles of alcohol in the room and noticed a small cut on the bridge of Mr. Keola’s nose. Officer Simpson couldn’t get a statement from the defendant because his speech was slurred and Mr. Keola was incoherent at the time.
When no further questions were asked, Officer Simpson was excused and stepped down from the witness stand.
The People’s third witness, Dr. Thomas Loehfelm, took the stand. He is a licensed radiologist at UCD Medical Center and had just finished a fellowship there back in June 2016. Dr. Loehfelm specializes in the abdomen and pelvis. He had noticed transverse process fractures in BC’s lumbar spine (lower back region of the spine) when the CT scan was taken on September 27, 2016. Most people have five bones in the lumbar spine labeled as L1 through L5. Dr. Loehfelm observed that there were fractures in L1, L2, L3, and L4.
“What type of force is necessary to break these bones?” Ms. Palumbo asked.
“I don’t know if there’s a way to quantify that. Typically, blunt force,” Dr. Loehfelm responded.
“Would hitting with a pole break them?” the People questioned.
“I suppose,” Dr. Loehfelm said.
“Would kicking break them?” Deputy DA Palumbo inquired.
“I suppose,” Dr. Loehfelm replied again.
The defense cross-examined the witness about the differences in fractures and what his findings were about the fractures. The witness explained that the fractures had a hairline distance from each other.
After no further questions were asked, Dr. Loehfelm was excused.
Sheriff’s Deputy Labin Wilson took the stand next. He was with West Sacramento Police Department for 10 years and has transferred to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. On September 1, 2013, Deputy Wilson was dispatched to the Crest Motel.
“Report of female that she’s been punched in the mouth and bitten by boyfriend she was living with,” the witness testified to the court. According to the witness, Mr. Keola had bitten BC on the right shoulder. BC told him what happened that led to violence. BC was just hanging downstairs talking to a gentleman. However, Mr. Keola got jealous that BC was hanging out with another man and he punched her.
Deputy Wilson noted that Mr. Keola had some minor scratches in the facial area and on his right side at the time. When the People asked the witness about the defendant’s demeanor, he said that Mr. Keola was in bed, incoherent, and showed signs and symptoms of intoxication.
The witness said he didn’t have that much time to talk to BC because her lip was hurt and causing her trouble with talking. Additionally, BC was soon transported by the ambulance.
Ms. Fredericksen cross-examined Deputy Wilson and asked if he was aware that there was a protective order against the suspect. Deputy Wilson gave her a negative response and he was excused when there were no further questions.
The People called Dr. Shruthi Ram to the stand. She is a licensed radiologist and is currently doing a fellowship at UC Davis Medical Center. On September 4, 2016, Dr. Ram examined BC’s X-rays.
“I believe it was the right forearm and left hand,” the witness testified.
There were bruises on BC’s right elbow, right wrist, left elbow, left hand and right ankle. Ms. Palumbo asked Dr. Ram if a person held up their forearms to protect themselves from, for example, being hit, if they would form such bruises. Ms. Palumbo demonstrated this by holding her forearms up in front of her face and crossing them in an X formation. Dr. Ram gave an affirmative answer.
The defense did not cross-examine the witness and she was excused.
The People’s sixth witness of the day was Robert Patton, a paramedic with American Medical Response. He worked on September 4, 2016, and was dispatched at 9:30am to a motel off West Capitol Avenue. The witness said he made contact with the individual, BC, who needed assistance and wrote a report after responding to that location.
“What injuries do you remember documenting?” Ms. Palumbo asked.
“She had facial injuries, and had injuries to both extremities, and had ankle injuries.” Mr. Patton testified.
There was nothing documented about BC’s lower back. He said that BC did not indicate that there was pain in her back. He noted that there was a traumatic type of swelling to BC’s nose, after looking at his report to refresh his recollection. According to Mr. Patton, BC’s left arm had lateral forearm abrasions, there was swelling in the right arm, and her right ankle was swollen as well.
“She did state that she was beat up.” Mr. Patton stated.
The defense cross-examined the People’s witness and asked when he took BC to the hospital. The victim was delivered to the hospital at 9:59am. Ms. Fredericksen questioned if anyone was around when he was there with BC, but he said that it was just the usual bystanders who were curious and nobody approached the witness to tell him what had happened to BC. Mr. Patton said he was aware that BC was a chronic drinker and testified that he did not recall treating her for that at the time.
Mr. Patton was excused after cross-examination by the defense.
The People’s last witness for the day was West Sacramento Officer Hector Torres. He had just graduated from the police academy last year and has only been with West Sacramento Police Department since July of 2016. On September 4, 2016, he was dispatched to UC Davis Medical Center around 12:00pm. That same day around 3:00pm, he was dispatched to the Crest Motel in West Sacramento.
Officer Torres had contact with the trauma nurse, Allison Jerwers. BC was admitted to UC Davis Medical Center around 10:00am. The witness spoke with BC around noon in the adult annex. His training officer, Officer Geoffrey Albert, was present at the time as well.
“What was her demeanor in the hospital bed?” Ms. Palumbo questioned.
“She seemed in pain,” Officer Torres answered.
“What made you think that?” Deputy DA Palumbo continued.
“I would try to speak to her and she would moan in pain and she kept saying she was in pain,” Officer Torres responded. He said that she was on a lot of medications so he couldn’t tell if she was intoxicated. The witness said he also had to repeat his questions often because BC couldn’t focus on his questions regarding her pain.
BC told Officer Torres her ex-boyfriend assaulted her.
“He was saying to her, ‘I’m going to kill you,'” the People’s witness testified. He also said that he did not see the person who called 911 and explained how the assault ended. BC had told Officer Torres that the assault ended when three guys entered her room and told Mr. Keola to leave. However, Officer Torres never found these three people BC spoke of. When the witness was dispatched to the Crest Motel, he said that the defendant was not there either.
The defense cross-examined Officer Torres and questioned how he gained access to the motel room. He explained that the motel manager gave him the key to access the room. The witness said he took pictures and saw the cane but did not see the steel pole.
“So you didn’t take the cane in for fingerprinting?” Ms. Fredericksen asked.
“No, I did not,” the People’s witness answered.
The witness was excused after the cross-examination.
The jury trial will resume with three more short witnesses on the morning of February 2 at 9:00am in Department 14, with Judge David Rosenberg presiding.