By Teja Dusanapudi
On Tuesday morning, Eric Lovett once again appeared at the Yolo County Superior Court, in the latest step of an increasingly complicated legal series, this time establishing a new trial setting date on January 3 of 2018 after his previous conviction was overturned due to a change in rulings on gang membership.
The change itself stemmed from the California Supreme Court ruling of People v. Sanchez in June of 2016, which altered the way hearsay evidence concerning a defendant’s gang affiliations could be admitted.
Lovett, who was previously facing charges for being an accessory to an attempted murder in a November 2014 shooting, allegedly made threatening hand gestures toward a witness at his preliminary hearing.
In a move that surprised many, the jury convicted Lovett of dissuading a witness for the benefit of a gang, a felony which, when combined with Lovett’s two previous criminal offenses, led to Mr. Lovett facing a sentence of 45 to life in a state prison.
On June 30, 2016, a unanimous California Supreme Court in Sanchez changed the way hearsay evidence could be admitted concerning a defendant’s gang membership.
Eric Lovett in February of 2015 was facing charges for being an accessory to attempted murder for the November 2014 shooting by Michael Reyes, who has long since been convicted and sentenced to
life in that shooting.
Lovett was sitting in his preliminary hearing when law enforcement officers present in the court alleged that he made slicing motions with his finger across his throat as the victim testified.
Lovett’s case was severed from the original trial and the jury hung
West Sacramento Officer Anthony Herrera testified that on February 19, 2015, he had witnessed Mr. Lovett make gestures toward Ernie Sotelo as Sotelo testified, and the officer interpreted the gestures as threatening.
Officer Herrera claimed he saw Lovett “do it over and over again.” He also testified that Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Galvan told him that he, Dep. Galvan, saw Lovett “do it several times” also, “the same thing, the same motion with the finger.”
Deputy Galvan reportedly saw Lovett make this motion “five or six more times, doing it very slow.”
The case was always going to be interesting because there were separate decisions by a variety of judges to exclude the testimony of Judge Paul Richardson, Deputy DA Amanda Zambor and Court Reporter Abby Waller-Reisig (wife of DA Jeff Reisig).
In his ruling last year, Judge Maguire ruled that Ms. Reisig, according to her declarations, had nothing to offer as to what happened, as she claimed not to have seen anything.
He offered the “dog that didn’t bark evidence” because she (Ms. Reisig) doesn’t remember seeing anything that is potentially probative. He said that that can be evidence, but he has no reason to think that the dog wouldn’t bark. He said the absence of the evidence isn’t relevant, stating there was nothing to take notice of.
This article relies on prior Vanguard coverage of this case for background information.