By Taite Trautwein
Jason Raysean Broadbent reported to Department 14 of the Yolo County Superior Court on Friday afternoon to answer to 28 charges brought against him in late 2015. The defendant allegedly sold contraband to undercover agents between July and October of that year, including assault weapons and drugs. His arrest was the culmination of a shootout between himself and numerous police officers.
The opening day of the trial began with testimony from Agent Cristobal Lara, a member of the Yolo Narcotic Enforcement Team (YONET) through the Woodland Police Department, who was assigned to Broadbent’s case. Agent Lara was the first undercover officer to contact Broadbent in July of 2015, seeking to initiate a sale.
Witness testimony detailed Agent Lara, appearing under the moniker “Trouble,” contacting Broadbent on July 28 via text. Lara claimed he contacted the defendant seeking to “purchase a fully automatic weapon or heroin.” The two met twice that evening, first at an ampm store in West Sacramento and again outside of a Yum Yum Donuts.
During their first encounter, which took place at 8:39 pm, Lara allegedly purchased two ounces of heroin for $1700 from Broadbent and a female passenger. It was after this exchange that the two began arranging future deals, specifically of assault rifles and methamphetamine. Lara claimed that Broadbent told him he could get a pound of meth for $4000, $1000 less than the price Lara had suggested. In the same conversation, the two arranged a gun purchase for later that night.
During the second meeting, Lara’s testimony stated, he successfully purchased an AR-15 from the defendant. Lara described the weapon as fully automatic with a 40-round magazine. The weapon was
present in the courtroom and the agent identified it as the same one he purchased on July 28, 2015.
Following the initial sale, Lara recounted communicating with Broadbent via text to set up a meeting the following day. This meeting, which once again took place at Yum Yum Donuts, saw Lara purchase a second AR-15 as well as more heroin, spending $2500, $100 more than Broadbent had requested, as the latter had to travel out of his way to West Sacramento. The weapon was once again presented as evidence and identified by Lara.
A third sale took place on August 4 after the two remained in contact. This time Lara purchased a .44 Magnum and a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, as well as a pound of methamphetamine. It was during this transaction that the two discussed how to make a weapon fully automatic. Lara claimed he was attempting to get Broadbent to reveal the source of his supplier, but was unsuccessful.
During a fourth sale, which took place in the parking lot of the Home Depot off Florin Road in Sacramento on August 19, Lara purchased three more rifles and two more handguns for $5300. All five weapons were present and identified by Agent Lara in the courtroom.
The final sale Lara detailed took place at the same Home Depot on October 29, 2015. Lara purchased a quarter ounce of heroin. When he tried to bring up purchasing more weapons, he claimed Broadbent told him “production had slowed down.”
Throughout the four months of deals, Lara was telling Broadbent that he was reselling all of the purchases in Redding.
Following the questioning by the prosecution, defense attorney Ava Landers began her cross-examination, but soon ended up butting heads with the prosecution over the potential reveal of sensitive information regarding undercover operations in Yolo County. After a brief meeting with Judge David Rosenberg, it was determined that no interactions between Lara and Broadbent taking place before July 28 could be referenced in this trial until the issue was reviewed further.
It was at this point that Ms. Landers admitted to pursuing an entrapment defense in this case, but Judge Rosenberg held firm on his decision until he is provided more information to review.
Landers began her examination by addressing the slang used in the communications between Lara and the defendant. Specifically, she noted that the words “fully automatic rifle” were never exchanged between the two, with both using the word “chopped” instead. Lara clarified that “chopped” was simply a reference to any type of rifle, most commonly attributed to AR-15s and similar models.
She also made it clear that Broadbent was hesitant to have the meeting take place in Yolo County, with Lara himself admitting it took some prompting to get the defendant to come to West Sacramento.
Following this, Landers probed into the relationship between the agent and the defendant. Lara at first claimed that he was not friends with Broadbent, that they were simply doing business. However, as the questioning continued, Lara did concede that it was in his best interest to maintain a friendly relationship with Broadbent to keep the deals coming. Landers pointed to Lara’s overpayment during the second meeting as evidence of this.
Finally, Ms. Landers sought to address why Lara had gone through with so many meetings before any arrest was made. Lara defended this by stating they hoped to one day trace Broadbent back to his supplier. Landers retorted that every meeting which took place was another felony charge added to her client’s record.
Agent Lara was not able to conclude his testimony Friday and will return to Department 14 on October 20, 2017, when the trial will reconvene. Four more witnesses are also expected to give testimony over the length of the trial.
Despite the heavy nature of the case, the preceding did end on a lighter note, as Judge Rosenberg allowed Broadbent to spend a few moments with his daughter, who was visiting from out of state.