By Teja Dusanapudi and Fabiha Zaman
Witness Testimony Continues in Lopez-Hernandez Case
By Teja Dusanapudi
The jury trial for co-defendants Joshua Armond Cadenaz-Lopez and Ricky Gomez Hernandez reconvened on Tuesday morning, their robbery case moving forward with the testimony of multiple witnesses.
Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes began the proceedings by calling Sacramento PD Officer Stephen Sanguinetti to the stand. Per his testimony, Officer Sanguinetti responded to a dispatch call on August 1, 2014, regarding a report of a fight with a knife involved.
The dispatch call had no information on the combatants except that it consisted of four males.
When Officer Sanguinetti arrived, three of the males immediately ran away at the sight of the police vehicle, all without the officer saying anything. The other male began walking in the opposite direction, with Officer Sanguinetti engaging him in dialogue, and was verbally identified as Alfonso Cerrado.
During this time, other officers detained two of the other males who ran off, by the names of Adrian Cerrado and Alex Boundsdale. During his cross-examination by Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance, Officer Sanguinetti identified all of the males he saw as juvenile except for Alfonso Cerrado.
The next witness called to the stand was Officer Richard Kawasaki, Officer Sanguinetti’s partner. Upon receiving the dispatch, Officer Kawasaki was solo in his patrol car, and accepted custody of the other male who had run away, who was verbally identified as Ricky Hernandez, one of the two co-defendants in this case.
Later on, the People called the victim of one of the robberies up to the stand, a man by the name of “RS.” On August 7 of 2015, the witness was serving as a cashier at a Circle K when a man came in with what appeared to be a gun hidden under his shirt.
Moving toward the witness, the man told him “I came to rob you,” and stated that he wanted “100 dollars.”
RS responded by telling the man to “get out,” and pulling out a fake gun.
The man left afterwards without any cash, and threatened two customers by the entrance.
RS then said that he left with an officer to identify the attempted robber, whom he identified in his cross-examination to have been approximately 15-16 years old.
After RS, Officer Maxwell Anderson arrived to give his testimony regarding the Circle K incident on August 7, 2015. Officer Anderson stated that he was notified by dispatch that there was robbery in progress. By the time he arrived on the scene, the attempted robber had left, but Officer Anderson was able to talk to RS, who told him that the suspect had stated that he had a .38 caliber revolver.
Afterwards, Officer Roy Hastings gave his brief testimony, stating that he had found the individual who had attempted to rob the Circle K, who was verbally identified as Nicholas Lopez. Officer Hastings later admitted, during his cross-examination with Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance, that the gun Mr. Lopez allegedly had turned out to be a hose nozzle.
This testimony was followed by that of an Officer Cameron, who spoke with another witness about a vehicle that the defendants allegedly used in their crimes. Officer Cameron testified that the witness believed he saw three males in a car about 50–60 feet away, who then left and got into a different vehicle. Upon cross-examination, Officer Cameron stated that the witness couldn’t recall very many specific details.
The final witness was Jonathan Sewell, a criminalist who worked in the past with the DOJ for eight years, who is very experienced in DNA testing, having worked over 450 DNA testing cases. Deputy DA Hasapes then asked Mr. Sewell to explain some of the process in DNA testing. Mr. Sewell went on to summarize the general process, from the analysis of DNA sequences to polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) to the final analysis.
Mr. Sewell then described the items he received and analyzed, including a green glove and a red bandana.
In terms of the DNA results, the green glove suggested that Mr. Cadenaz-Lopez was a major contributor of the DNA found on it, when referenced with a cheek swab from the defendant.
The bandana was found to be inconclusive in terms of DNA evidence.
Mr. Sewell’s cross-examination by Ms. Lance was delayed until the afternoon session.
Jury Trial Resumes for Two Alleged Gang Members Accused of Multiple Robberies
By Fabiha Zaman
Witness testimony for the jury trial of codefendants Ricky Gomez Hernandez and Joshua Armond Cadenaz-Lopez proceeded on Tuesday afternoon. These men have allegedly committed 2nd degree robbery, used a firearm, attempted assault with a firearm, and been involved with criminal street gang activity
Deputy Public Defender Lisa Lance, representing Hernandez, cross-examined a witness named Mr. Seoul once court reconvened after the lunch break. The witness explained that he had written three reports on evidence for this particular case. His initial report included a green glove and two other pairs of gloves, a black one and a gray one. These three items were the first ones Mr. Seoul had examined.
The witness’ examination concluded that Hernandez was not a major contributor to the green glove. In other words, Hernandez’s DNA was not found in a significant amount when studying the DNA mixtures found on this item.
The next report written by Mr. Seoul pertained to a black and white bandana. Hernandez was also excluded as a major contributor to the DNA mixture found from the bandana. However, for the remaining black and gray gloves and the red bandana, the DNA profile revealed only inconclusive mixtures.
Ms. Lance asked if Mr. Seoul could confirm that gloves and bandanas are both conducive for DNA testing. He answered yes, and responded that he had expected to analyze saliva from the bandanas specifically, as they had reportedly been used by the defendants to cover their faces during the alleged robberies.
Before she finished questioning the witness, Ms. Lance inquired about anything that may hinder DNA testing. The witness revealed that the two biggest factors that would interfere with DNA testing are degradation of DNA over time or other inhibitors, but DNA testing can still take place months after the item was received.
During the redirect from Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes, representing the People, the witness further explained that for the red bandana there were at least four contributors found from the DNA mixture. The mixture, however, was too complex to find a sole contributor, since cells often intermingle during the analyzing process. He said that if there were only two contributors, the math is much simpler and the major contributor is easier to derive.
Mr. Hasapes then asked the witness if knowing how the gloves in question were used could help determine a contributor, to which he replied that this type of information would only allow him to confirm if certain scenarios are consistent with his findings.
The witness was subsequently presented with different scenarios of glove use. Each scenario varied in the rigor and time for which the glove was used. Mr. Hasapes seemed to be curious about the items from the DNA testing which were determined inconclusive. Mr. Seoul then explained that the DNA tested could have been altered if in fact someone else had used it vigorously. This would have led to the possible elimination of the major contributor’s DNA and the background DNA’s presence reduction.
Re-cross from attorney Jem Martin, representing Cadenaz-Lopez, resulted in a breakdown of the green glove’s DNA mixture. Mr. Seoul reported that 60-70 percent was from the major contributor, but there were three other minor contributors – he was unable to also provide a percentage breakdown for them.
Once the witness was excused, the People called in police officer Snavard Avagyan from the city of West Sacramento. She told Mr. Hasapes that she was dispatched to a park on April 15, 2016 where she was told there were subjects in the park pointing a green laser at an aircraft.
When Officer Avagyan arrived on the scene, she saw four individuals together and one of them seemed to pointing a green laser. She made contact with Jesus Baeza, Javier Perez, Geronimo Aragon, and Anthony Tibarrez when they were exiting the park. She found the green laser about three feet away from where the subjects were standing.
Before defense counsel’s short cross disclosing that the subjects had all verbally identified themselves to the witness, Judge David Rosenberg reminded the jury that this testimony is limited to understanding the gang charges and excused the witness.
The next witness to be called was the former registered owner of a black 9mm Hi-Point firearm. Upon further questioning, she admitted she did not know what happened to it, but she believed it was stolen around June of 2015 when she was moving to a new apartment.
During her move, the witness had the firearms stored in a plastic bag and placed among boxes. Since she observed many people going in and out of her apartment that day, she admitted that someone could have taken it.
The witness said she was the sole owner when she registered the firearm under her name and does not have any reason to believe the defendants stole it from her.
When presented with the alleged firearm, the witness said it definitely looked familiar. Though the serial number had been rubbed off, she claimed she did not for any reason take it off herself while it was in her possession from 2009 to 2015, when she last saw it.
Defense counsel asked the witness if she had ever seen either of the defendants or if they were part of the group of people going in and out of the apartment the day she was moving out. She answered no to both questions before being excused by Judge Rosenberg.
The last witness of the afternoon was current Police Officer David Stallions from Placer County. He was formerly employed by the West Sacramento Police Department as a detective. Stallions was the lead detective on the robbery that occurred at Nicky’s Market, and was later assigned to the attempted robberies at the ampm near Florin Road in Sacramento and the Denny’s in West Sacramento, both of which occurred on October 19, 2016.
Det. Stallions was on call the night of October 19, and he had the responsibility of responding to any calls or orders that came after hours. The following day, Stallions requested to conduct interviews of the defendants. The witness confirmed with Mr. Hasapes that there was video surveillance of those interviews for law enforcement purposes.
Mr. Hasapes then requested to play the video surveillance from October 20, 2016. It included footage of the defendants talking among themselves and being interviewed by Det. Stallions. After Judge Rosenberg accepted the People’s request, the bailiff distributed the transcript of the interview. The interview footage itself was just under two hours.
As Mr. Hasapes set up the interview from his laptop, Det. Stallions identified the displayed still shot as one of the interview rooms at the West Sacramento Police Department.
The interview surveillance footage was only halfway finished as court adjourned for the day.
Come see the Vanguard Event – “In Search of Gideon” – which highlights some of the key work performed by the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office…