by Alexandra Quilici and Novpreet Shoker
On Tuesday, the review and analysis of Instagram posts and text message records continued in the ongoing trial of Joseph Hernandez, Rakhem Bradford and Joshua Givens. They are accused of committing several burglaries in Davis in 2013. Sergeant Michael Munoz, a Davis police officer who investigated the burglaries, returned to the witness stand.
The entire session was spent with Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin questioning and sorting through text messages, photos, videos, and physical evidence with Sergeant Munoz. No other witness or lawyer was brought forth or able to question.
The morning began with a discussion of an Asian fraternity house which Hernandez allegedly partied at and stole from. After the party, his now ex-girlfriend (who has been a key witness throughout the trial) shared that he bragged to her about going in on the morning after the party and stealing two items (she said he used the phrase “got em”). Munoz confirmed that she told him she saw those items herself. One of the items was an iPod.
Ms. Serafin then projected phone records that showed photos taken soon after incidents of stealing happened at the frat house.
She then showed phone text records that were an exchange between Hernandez’s phone and that of a friend. The friend called him a “thugger” and told him that the cops were onto him and not to “hit licks” (which Munoz shared means “steal/commit robberies”). Hernandez’s phone responded, “I am broke,” to which the friend replied “no you’re not don’t do it.”
Hernandez’s phone also had texts that read, “I’m about to get money tonigh” with other people asking him to “promise” them that he “wouldn’t do it.”
Other exchanges had friends asking “any lappys on you?” This, Munoz explained, meant laptops, several laptops the defendants have been accused of stealing.
On Mr. Bradford’s Instagram, several of his posts were sales of laptops. One post showed a laptop on his bed and his hand holding it (identifiable because of a distinct scar on his hand) and the caption read “$900. No deals.” Mr. Bradford’s Instagram also advertised a watch and Ray-Ban sunglasses.
In more text exchanges, Mr. Givens’ phone texted, “We can get another one.” To which Mr. Hernandez’s phone replied, “Do it.” Hernandez’s phone also had texts that read “bro I got a TV” and “a ps3 controller charger,” and “I need pics to c if I can sell it.”
A video was then shown of Hernandez videoing himself giving a house tour. In the tour, there is a flash of a TV in the living room. Munoz said that the TV had similar characteristics to the one that was reported stolen by a neighbor.
During the search warrant of the Drexel Drive house that Hernandez videoed, the police seized an Xbox 360, controllers, and games. The police traced the serial number on the console, to which Ms. Serafin struggled to get the right question out that would tie the Xbox to another person (there were many objections from the defense throughout the day).
The day ended with another video shown of Hernandez and Bradford walking through the mall and talking with each other. Munoz identified the people in the video, and the day ended before further questions could be asked.
Long-Running Burglary Trial Resumes with Phone Records
By Novpreet Shoker
The courtroom in Department 8 on Wednesday afternoon observed several pages of phone records, as Sergeant Michael Munoz continued to testify to what the evidence revealed about the three co-defendants, Joseph Hernandez, Rakhem Bradford and Joshua Givens.
These men are being held to answer for several counts of burglary as well as on charges of possession of stolen property and marijuana.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin resumed her direct examination of Sergeant Munoz by pulling up Hernandez’s phone records.
DDA Serafin presented several passages of texts which Hernandez’s phone sent and received, discussing various electronics such as phones, MacBook laptops, and televisions. These conversations have been pulled from as far back as November of 2013.
Ms. Serafin then went on to present other conversations so that Sgt. Munoz could identify the other co-defendants, Bradford and Givens, and their numbers for the courtroom.
The focus of Sgt. Munoz’s testimony turned to a specific incident that took place off Portola Court in Davis.
In an effort to clarify, Ms. Serafin referred to evidence Sgt. Munoz found in Given’s cellphone when searching its photos and videos.
Sergeant Munoz described seeing a video taken by Givens on December 17, 2013. The video included a large television, being zoomed in on all around, while Givens narrated behind the video and out of view.
Once he saw this video, Sgt. Munoz decided to investigate and figure out if a burglary, under similar circumstances, had occurred in Davis. Sure enough, there was a reported burglary for a large television at a residence located off Portola Court.
Later on, DDA Serafin continued presenting various conversations from Hernandez’s cellphone.
In one passage, Sgt. Munoz revealed, by reading through text messages, that Hernandez, Givens, and a third roommate were three days away from being evicted because of unpaid rent.
In another passage, it was also discovered that Givens reached out to their landlord and apologized profusely, as well as asking for a little more time, for what was presumed to have been their late rent.
Deputy DA Serafin presented yet another passage of text messages, which was dated December 6 of 2013, in which the landlord told both Hernandez and Givens that they must be “out by Sunday.” He implied that the alternative would be a lawsuit.
Sergeant Munoz mentioned finding another video from Givens’ cellphone, in which a large amount of loose marijuana was being recorded, along with the previously-mentioned green tub.
DDA Serafin then asked for further clarification about the marijuana that was being shown in the video. Sgt. Munoz explained that the marijuana found in the co-defendants’ residence was taken into evidence, and that it is the same marijuana recorded in the video.
Sergeant Munoz’s testimony will continue tomorrow, as Ms. Serafin resumes her direct examination.