Suspect Accused Of Vandalizing Islamic Center of Davis is Arraigned

By Setarah Jahid

On February 16, 2017, Lauren Kirk-Coehlo’s arraignment, for the crime of vandalizing the Islamic Center of Davis, commenced. The two defense attorneys on this case began by entering Ms. Kirk-Coehlo’s plea of “not guilty.” It was then asked by the defense team of Steven Sabbadini and David Dratman to have the setting of bail delayed until Thursday of next week.

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens for the People asked for bail to be set now, reasoning that there are “certain junctures where you set bail” – even during an arraignment.

In Mr. Couzens’ motion to deny bail altogether, he wrote, “Here, the risk to public safety is palpable and alarming. It is one thing to harbor hateful thoughts.”  He cited Ms. Kirk-Coehlo’s use of racial epithets, praise for mass killers like Dylann Roof and Alexandre Bissonnette and online searches using terms such as “throw jew down the well,” “gas jews,” “bomb vest” and “hate is good.”

“Ms. Coehlo has shown she is willing to act on her racist and hateful beliefs, that she sees herself as a ‘hero’ doing it, that she harbors a desire to ‘kill many people,’ that she is collaborating with like-minded people and she is at least looking for information on devices used to cause mass damage,” Mr. Couzens wrote.

For their part, after Ms. Kirk-Coehlo pleaded not guilty, Steven Sabbadini requested a bail hearing to reduce the bail or even to go to supervised own recognizance (OR).

Mr. Couzens asked for an immediate bail hearing, but Commissioner Kent O’Mara instructed him to raise the issue when the case came to Judge Daniel P. Maguire.

Commissoner O’Mara made it clear to both sides that he was not going to change what Judge McAdam had set the bail to be, at $1 million. O’Mara then proceeded to schedule the dates of the preliminary hearing and bail hearing. He also assigned the case to Judge Maguire.

The date of the preliminary hearing was determined to be on March 6, 2017, in Department 10 at 1:30. The bail hearing will be held sooner, on February 23, at 1:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, Davis Police, along with the FBI and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, announced the arrest of Lauren Kirk-Coehlo, a 30-year-old Davis resident, in connection with the January 22 incident that occurred just before 4 am.  The suspect allegedly vandalized the Islamic Center of Davis, smashing several large windows, then vandalized two bicycles and wrapped pork bacon around the door handles of the mosque. The repair costs exceeded $7,000.

The suspect is facing one count of felony vandalism under California Penal Code section 594(a)(b)(1) with a hate crime count enhancement for a hate crime under Penal Code section 422.75(a).  The second felony vandalism count is under PC section 594.3(b), vandalism to a place of religious worship “which is shown to have been a hate crime and committed for the purpose of intimidating and deterring persons from freely exercising their religious beliefs.”

Judge Samuel McAdam on Tuesday morning “set bail in this matter at $1 million.” If convicted, the defendant faces up to six years in prison.

In an affidavit filed by Davis Police Detective Daniel La Fond he wrote, “The investigation into the suspect, Kirk-Coehlo has raised many public concerns. During the service of a search warrant at her residence by the FBI and, Davis Police, Kirk-Coehlo’s wireless telephone was seized.”

A search into her Twitter account showed her praising Dylann Roof, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing nine people in 2015 in the Charleston, South Carolina, African American church.

“While glorifying Roof” she allegedly posted “‘3 cheers for Dylan Roof’ then post(ed) how intelligent Roof was in interviews.”  Det. La Fond wrote, “The party she is sending private messages back and forth with on Twitter asks her if she had ever killed anything. Kirk-Coehlo replied, ‘No but I have dreams and aspirations’ ‘I would like to kill’ ‘many people.’ Sent in 3 separate messages.”

A search of Ms. Kirk-Coehlo’s cell showed her “making derogatory remarks using the terms ‘Jews, Mexicans and N—s’ on a regular basis.”

She also reportedly conversed “via text with her mother about her ‘mental problems’ and made several searches about the Davis Mosque, Woodland Mosque and other Mosques in the country.”

Defense attorney Steven Sabbadini declined comment about the case to the Vanguard.

David M. Greenwald contributed to this report.

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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  1. Tia Will

    A question for clarification. Is she pleading “not guilty” to all of the charges including the vandalism, or just the hate crime charges, or ….?

    And what if she is able to raise the 1 million in bail ? Does that mean that our community is any safer from her actions. If her goal is truly to kill large numbers of people, might she not see time out on bail as her last opportunity?  I truly cannot see the rationale in allowing bail at all if she is perceived as dangerous.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      The article in the Enterprise said that she has pleaded “not guilty” to felony charges of vandalism with a hate-crime enhancement and vandalism of a church.

  2. Roberta Millstein

    In the Enterprise, it was reported that the suspect, a day after the vandalism hate crime, tweeted “Had fun last night … im a hero and no one will ever know how funny it was.”

    1. John Hobbs

      If we learned anything from the Marsh case, it’s that when a person fantasizes killing people and starts making plans to do that, we should believe them.”

      One hopes. I still hear too many “This is blown out of proportion.” comments.

      1. David Greenwald

        My initial reaction was that they were going overboard to send a message.  However, once I read the declaration by LaFond, it’s clear that this was very serious.

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