Jury Trial Begins in Burglary Case

By Novpreet Shoker

This morning marked the beginning of a jury trial for a case regarding burglary and illegal possession of a controlled substance, with three young gentlemen as the co-defendants. They are Rakhem Bradford, Joshua Givens, and Joseph Hernandez. The gentlemen face multiple and various charges connected with stolen property, as well as possession of marijuana, that officers recovered after several months of investigation.

These gentlemen were allegedly part of several burglaries around the city of Davis, and also proceeded to sell this stolen property, which consisted of items such as televisions, laptops and other electronics, as well as several watches.

These crimes began in November of 2012 and continued all the way until January 2014.

This afternoon the defense counsel proceeded with their opening statements, asserting the innocence of each off their clients.

James Granucci, the defense attorney for Joshua Givens, emphasized that the two main witnesses for this case, who were also involved in these alleged crimes in some way, are extremely unreliable. He noted that these two witnesses were also charged, but because they pled and received “a deal of the century,” as he said, their testimonies will not be truthful.

He reiterated that the witnesses will say whatever they think they need to say in order to reduce the heat on themselves.

Mr. Granucci again discredited both witnesses by pointing out that one is still in custody because of his own criminal past, and the other is a habitual liar, scared of being deported by immigration for her own unlawful actions.

Because the prosecutors’ case is based on the witness dependability, Mr. Granucci claimed the People’s case is fairly weak, and asked the jury to find Givens not guilty on all charges if the People do not prove their case beyond any reasonable doubt.

Attorney Ava Landers, representing Rakhem Bradford, began her opening statement by introducing Bradford as a young gentleman focusing on his musical career as a “rising rap star,” who lives in his family home, which is not in Davis. At the time, Ms. Landers explained that the other two defendants were attending UC Davis, and she stressed to the jury that Bradford would simply visit them, as they were old friends.

Ms. Landers did admit that Bradford smokes, buys, and sells marijuana regularly, but again stresses his total lack of participation in the other gentlemen’s crimes.

She also conceded that Bradford would sell various items on his social media, but there is no clear connection between those items and the items that the other defendants were stealing. She clarified that there is no evidence linking the items Bradford would sell to the stolen property.

Ms. Landers also took an emotive turn in her opening statement by explaining that Bradford was in love with one of the witnesses, the young woman afraid of being deported. Because of this, Bradford was still involved with the “crew,” but again his defense attorney pointed out that he was not directly involved in the crimes.

Just as Mr. Granucci did, Ms. Landers also noted that this same witness, afraid of deportation, is a known liar and her motivation to testify is due to her extremely lenient plea deal provided by the People.

The third defense attorney, a deputy public co-defender for Joseph Hernandez, began her opening statement by commenting on the totality of the case: “I don’t think it’ll add up.”

She told the jury that much of the case’s evidence is based on testimonies from those same witnesses. The rest of her statement described the history of one of the witnesses as “the whole key to this case.”

The same witness, previously discredited by the other defense counsel, is known to have continuously lied to the police over a duration of several months, after being arrested. With the added pressure of possible deportation, the defense attorney claimed the witness to be unstable and inconsistent, and her intentions are to look out solely for herself.

Counsel ended her opening statement by asking the jury to find Hernandez not guilty on all charges.

Judge David Reed asked for the People to call their first witness, a victim of one of the robberies. The witness proceeded to describe how he realized his property had been stolen while he had gone back home, during his winter break from UC Davis. The items stolen from him consisted of two watches, an old laptop, and a TV.

The defense attorney for Hernandez began the cross-examination and asked the witness if all the property stolen was his, to which the witness responded yes. She also confirmed the prices at which the witness valued his stolen items, when they were initially taken.

Mr. Granucci had no questions for the witness.

Ms. Landers simply asked if the witness retrieved his stolen property eventually, and the witness responds that he did get his TV back.

During redirect, the prosecutor asked the witness whether he knows any of the defendants. The witness replied that he does know of Hernandez through mutual friends from his attendance at UC Davis, but he never spoke to him directly.

After asking for any more questions by either counsel, Judge Reed excused the witness.

The second witness called by the People was also another victim of the burglaries. The story described by him has several parallels with the first witness. Both witnesses lived relatively near each other, and both were robbed during their winter break from UC Davis.

The items stolen from this witness included two watches, and his other roommates also lost some of their electronics.

During cross-examination, Mr. Granucci passed.

Ms. Landers asked the witness about one of the watches in particular  ̶  a Nixon watch with a leather band and white face.

The defense attorney for Hernandez asked the witness about the street that he lived on at that time, which was Anderson Road. The witness described the road as fairly busy.

The People had no further redirect, and so, with no more questions, the witness was excused. However, Mr. Granucci did ask for the witness to be subject to recall.

The third witness called by the People was another victim of the burglaries, but is also former roommates with the second witness. This witness also attended UC Davis.

The witness explained that he was with the second witness when they found that their home had been burglarized. The items taken from this witness included a laptop and its charger.

Judge Reed then decided to take a break, and requested the jury and the witness to return the next morning at 9 a.m.

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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 Comment

  1. Jim Hoch

    Smooth Move Ms. Landers


    “but there is no clear connection between those items and the items that the other defendants were stealing. She clarifies that there is no evidence linking the items Bradford would sell to the stolen property.”

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