By Novpreet Shoker
On Friday afternoon, the jury trial for codefendants Ricky Gomez Hernandez and Joshua Armond Cadenaz-Lopez began with opening statements from both sides. These men are facing various charges which include robbery in the 2nd degree, enhancements for use of a firearm, attempted assault with a firearm, as well as enhancements for criminal street gang activity.
Judge David Rosenberg instructed the jury as to how the trial will proceed, and then he allowed Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes to present his case to the courtroom.
The People began their opening statement with a surveillance video of a robbery by three men taking place, and stated that this case is about “fear, terror, intimidation.”
Deputy DA Hasapes referred to the codefendants as gang members who are also “sophisticated criminals.”
The prosecutor then presented several surveillance videos and pictures of the robberies in question for this case.
Mr. Hasapes first began with Nicky’s Market located in West Sacramento, and presented video dating back from the night of October 18, 2016.
Although no actual theft took place, the prosecutor pointed out that Hernandez not only flashed a firearm at the store’s employee but also fired it off twice outside the store.
Witnesses have also reported seeing a gold sedan, which is central in this case, and two Hispanic males lingering around the market rather suspiciously.
The same night, a couple of hours later, defendant Hernandez and another male were photographed, driving a gold sedan, by a traffic camera in Citrus Heights.
On October 19, 2016, another incident occurred at an AM/PM near Florin Road in Sacramento. At 12:45 a.m. defendant Cadenaz and another friend parked their gold sedan away from security cameras, and later on Hernandez, Cadenaz, and a third aggressor approached the gas station’s entrance.
Because the doors were locked, the three men began hitting the glass and eventually broke through. Cadenaz is seen in the video jumping over the counter and taking money out of the cash register, while the other two men flashed their firearms at the employee.
Mr. Hasapes continued presenting his case by introducing a third incident at a Denny’s, which occurred the same night but a little while later at 1:07 a.m.
Defendant Cadenaz is seen entering the restaurant first, and Hernandez and the third attacker follow in after. DA Hasapes narrates the surveillance footage and also describes each of the men’s attire, which included black sweatshirts, gloves and red bandanas, as well as ski masks.
Once inside, Cadenaz is seen demanding money from the server in the restaurant, and then robbing a family of three who were dining there at the time.
Hernandez followed the server and retrieved the cash while the third robber went into the kitchen to make sure the cook remained on the floor during the robbery.
Mr. Hasapes then presented yet another robbery from the same night, at a 7-Eleven at 1:32 a.m. The prosecutor explained that the next-door laundromat had security cameras, and the codefendants have been spotted in the footage, wearing the same outfits.
The prosecutor explained that the employee from 7-Eleven will provide testimony of how the same three Hispanic males in question entered the store, pointed their firearms at him, and stole from the cashier.
DDA Hasapes introduced the final stop of that night, which was at another AM/PM at 2:01 a.m. Several witnesses remember a sedan and two Hispanic males lingering outside of the store.
These men entered the store and robbed the cashier as well as a civilian in the store.
On October 20, 2016, another incident occurred in which the codefendants have been accused of hitting a man with their vehicle and running off. Mr. Hasapes could only reveal limited information about that case due to legal motions brought forward by the defense.
Later that very day, the codefendants, along with their accomplices, were caught on surveillance parking their gold sedan, and transferring items from that vehicle to a Chevy truck. They then proceeded to cover the gold sedan with a car cover and drive off in the truck.
Mr. Hasapes explained that some time later the codefendants were pulled over by the police, and taken to the police station.
When the vehicle was searched, the police found a loaded .38 caliber revolver, a loaded black 9mm revolver, two red bandanas, over 500 grams of marijuana, a digital scale, and Swisher Sweets.
When the codefendants were taken into interview rooms, Hernandez was heard saying to Cadenaz, “I hope this doesn’t lead back to the other night.”
Cadenaz responded to Hernandez with, “You should’ve run, so we could ditch them.”
In further investigation, officers also found some items from the codefendants’ outfits that they were allegedly wearing during the robberies, such as the same gloves, and shoes.
Hasapes closed his opening statement with a couple of videos taken from Cadenaz’s cellphone. These videos depicted the codefendants smoking marijuana, showing off what is presumed to be stolen cash, and loading their guns.
Hasapes also clarified that these men are believed to be a part of the Broderick Boys street gang.
Attorney Jem Martin is the defense counsel for Cadenaz, and he began his opening statement by clearly and adamantly stating that Cadenaz was not there for any of the incidents.
Mr. Martin explained that his client was home asleep, passed out on drugs and alcohol. He told the jury that Cadenaz’s ex-stepfather will be testifying to this information during the trial as well.
As for the man that is attributed to be Cadenaz in the surveillance footage, Mr. Martin claimed that it could not be Cadenaz because the man was missing a very large and unavoidable tattoo on his chest, which Cadenaz reportedly has.
Mr. Martin pointed out that Cadenaz was not spotted in the picture from Citrus Heights, and, of the items found by the police, there was no robbery paraphernalia found in Cadenaz’s possession that would tie him to those stores.
The defense attorney continued with this line of defense, claiming that Cadenaz was extremely intoxicated and the evidence against him is circumstantial.
He closed his opening statement by addressing that just because Cadenaz might be associated with members from a particular gang, does not mean he is the one committing the crimes.
The defense attorney for Hernandez is Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance. She began her opening statement with telling the jury that they must “weigh the evidence.”
Ms. Lance also pointed out that Hernandez was not in any of the videos or photos found in Cadenaz’s phone. As for Nicky’s Market, she explained that they bought some snacks and left, and that nothing else has been proven.
Ms. Lance’s second part to her argument was that some of the facts can be “speculative and inflammatory.”
She ended her statement by urging the jury to look at the facts behind the enhancements, Nicky’s Market and the marijuana, and see that they are shaky in establishing a foundation.
Just as the People began to introduce their evidence, court was adjourned for the day.