By Alexandra Quilici
On Friday afternoon a preliminary hearing brought two witnesses forward in the investigation of a gas station robbery. Judge Paul K. Richardson found reasonable suspicion and evidence to move forward with the case of Rebecca Bustamante. She is charged with second degree robbery.
The first witness brought forward was a cashier at the Chevron gas station, who had an altercation with the defendant. He noticed her immediately when she walked in the door, and kept his eye on her the whole time. He had previously been warned by his boss to watch her.
While helping another customer (the customer was the one who eventually called the police), he saw the defendant put cans of beer in her pants as well as carry cans in her hand. Before she could leave, he stopped her.
When he asked her not to leave an altercation ensued.
The witness said the defendant acted violently toward him and hit and bit him. She “punched him all over the body.” The man first insisted that she took Four Lokos (a brand of beer which comes in four packs), however, the evidence showed a different type of beer. He later retracted that statement, but it was established that the photos were an “example” of the kind of beer the defendant took, not the actual product.
The witness could not recall an accurate memory of whether he and the defendant had an altercation inside or outside the store. There was a language barrier that made it hard for him to understand the questions, and for the lawyers and court reporter to understand him.
At one point, the difficulty for everybody to understand each other made the defendant, Ms. Bustamante, start laughing. The judge asked her to “show respect” to the courtroom, and she apologized saying that “it’s not funny.” Her attorney noted her history of mental illness and also apologized on her behalf.
The next witness was Officer Randall Krantz who reported to the scene. He had previously interacted with the defendant before this incident, and noted that he knew she had mental issues but she has always cooperated.
The officer clarified that things started getting physical between the cashier and the defendant before Ms. Bustamante had left the store.
He said that when they went to go look for Bustamante, she was only a block away. She told him that the cashier was very violent toward her.
Moving forward, the defendant is scheduled for an arraignment on August 18 at 10:00am.