Vanguard Coverage of Preliminary Hearings involving Petty Theft, Domestic Violence and a Felony Hit and Run

Judge Reduces Charge to Misdemeanor Following Preliminary Hearing

By Fabiha Zaman

Judge Paul Richardson reduced the charges against defendant Wally Ly to a misdemeanor following a preliminary hearing on Thursday afternoon. Defendant Wally Ly was charged with count one grand theft.

Ly was an employee at a casino in Yolo County. In September of 2017, Ly’s employer found $100 in his pocket, with security footage to prove he had taken it.

During his testimony, sole witness Officer Matthew Milliron confirmed that he had talked to the defendant after reading him his Miranda Rights.

When questioned by the People, Officer Milliron revealed that Ly had been an employee at the casino since 2004. Ly told Officer Milliron that this was not the first time he took money from the casino. He admitted he had been stealing since May 2017, and between May 2017 and September 2017 he stole an estimated $7000 on multiple separate occasions. On that evening in September, Ly had only stolen $100 and when asked by Officer Milliron, Ly answered that the most he ever took was $250.

Officer Milliron also explained that in the security footage he watched following the incident, he found that Ly was able to steal money by forging wins at the casino. Ly oversaw the dealers at the
table and when a patron obtains over two aces, that patron receives cash money. Ly was responsible for handling the paperwork for these wins and would write in extra money that he would later collect for himself.

During the cross-examination from the defense counsel, Officer Milliron said that the $100 bill was the only thing found on Ly that day. After confirming that fact, defense counsel argued that to meet the requirements of being classified as a felony, the amount stolen needs to be more than $950 and there has to be independent evidence besides just the defendant’s testimony. Defense counsel cited proposition 47 and the 2010 Powers case.

The People contested this argument, pointing out that Ly’s actions could be reasonably assumed as ongoing conduct.

After taking a brief recess to review the case, Judge Richardson concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to suggest Ly had stolen more than $950. Thus, Ly’s charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, with the People asking for a $6500 restitution.

The defense counsel attempted to resolve the case soon after Judge Richardson’s ruling, but after a brief of-the-record conversation, the defense counsel and the People both agreed to table the matter until the scheduled pre-trial conference on November 6 at 8:30 AM.

West Sacramento Hit and Run suspect, Kareem K. Washington’s Preliminary Hearing

By Esmeralda Figueroa

Thursday afternoon, three witnesses testified against Kareem Kento Washington. Washington was detained and arrested shortly after he collided into a vehicle in West Sacramento on August 22, 2017. Washington is accused of felony assault, felony hit and run, hit and run/property damage, and domestic battery.

On August 25, 2017, Washington entered a plea of not guilty.

On Thursday afternoon, Judge Paul K. Richardson heard the testimonies of three witnesses. District Attorney Garrett Hamilton called forth the first witness, Washington’s former ex-girl and alleged victim. She alleged that on August 22, 2017, Washington hit her with a motor vehicle he was driving. However, she claimed she was not run over because the vehicle came to a complete stop once it hit her. When the alleged victim was asked by District Attorney Hamilton if Washington was outraged and/or shouting at her after the incident occurred, she claimed Washington was not angry but startled.

The second witness called forth was officer Andrew Ha from West Sacramento Police Department. Officer Ha indicated he was despatched to a collision incident but prior to his arrival, dispatch indicated the suspect was attempting to leave the scene. According to officer Ha, once he arrived at the scene, Washington was sitting on the sidewalk. District Attorney Hamilton asked officer Ha if Washington was being restrained, officer Ha indicated Washington was not being restrained. Officer Ha stated he had interviewed two additional victims at the scene who indicated a Lexus had collided into their vehicle.

During cross-examination, officer Ha was asked if he had taken any statements other than the two previously mentioned, he indicated no because officers at the scene had conducted the statements. Officer Ha then alleged that according the the statements gather by officers he decided to drive Washington to the police station to arrest him. Then officer Ha was asked how long did it take him to review the statements gathered by the officers, officer Ha refused to answer the question and refused to give an approximation of time.

The third witness called to the stand was officer Daniel Boehle also from West Sacramento Police Department. District Attorney Hamilton asked officer Boehle if he recalled the day the incident occurred, officer Boehle indicated it occurred on August 23, 2017. Attorney Hamilton advised officer Boehle not to guess but rather refer to the report. Officer Boehle then changed his statement and indicated that the incident occurred on August 22, 2017. According to officer Boehle, he took two statements from the scene. The witnesses alleged that a vehicle was speeding behind them at approximately 100 mph, when it lost control then regained control and continued speeding until it collided with another vehicle. Officer Boehle was asked by District Attorney Hamilton if the witnesses indicated that the suspect was attempting to run from the scene, officer replied no. Once officer Boehle was given the police report he changed his story and indicated that the witnesses did in fact witness the suspect attempting to leave the scene.

The fourth witness will take the stand next Thursday, October 19, 2017, at 1:30pm in department 14.

Man Allegedly Strikes Wife After Drunken Argument

By Teja Dusanapudi

Ontoniel Montoya Lopez’s preliminary hearing began this Thursday, with two witnesses–Lopez’s spouse and a police officer involved with the case–giving their testimony relating to events occurring on September 23rd of this year, wherein Mr. Lopez allegedly struck his wife after an escalating argument in which he was drunk.

The case began with Lopez’s wife taking the stand, aided by a translator, recounting the incident that had happened nearly a month before. Beginning around 7 am to 9 am on the 23rd, she said that she and her then-drunk husband had been discussing his drinking behavior, and when she’d reached out to her phone, he’d grabbed it away from her and “grazed” her with his hand. At this point, their three children were all sleeping with the sole exception of one child who was with them in the room.

Immediately afterwards, Lopez left the house through the back door, leaving his wife’s phone on the steps and continued walking. His wife, at that point, was not aware that the phone was still in the house, and believed Lopez had taken the phone with him.

The police then came with one officer, Deputy Mez, speaking to Lopez’s wife with the help of her son, who was translating.

The District Attorney questioned parts of the witness testimony, beginning by examining contradictions between the statements the Defendant’s wife made on September 23rd versus the current court statements.

He began by asking the wife if she and the defendant had been arguing, to which she denied stating that they “were not yelling.”. Her former statements, however, from the day of the incident, were brought back up, in which she states that the two had been arguing. To this, Mrs. Lopez responded that her son mistranslated for her, and said words that she had not meant to say.

The DA also asked if Mrs. Lopez stated she was going to call the police prior to Mr. Lopez striking her, which she also denied, and again after prior statements were brought up stating that she had in fact informed Mr. Lopez of her intentions during their argument, she stated that her son again had not translated her words properly and had lied.

Additionally, the question was raised of how the police were notified given that according to the testimony by Mrs. Lopez, the phone had been taken. Mrs. Lopez insisted that the phone had called the police itself through an emergency call feature rather than any person calling the police.

The DA ended by asking the witness if she was afraid of retaliation and if she would “lie for her husband,” both questions answered in the negative by Mrs. Lopez.

The defense attorney, Peter Borruso, took over to cross examine Mrs. Lopez, asking about her husband. It was revealed that Mr. Lopez had had a drinking problem since March of 2017, starting as a result of the kidney surgery of one of their children. She also denied yelling, on either person’s side, during the argument. Mr. Borruso ended by asking Mrs. Lopez if Mr. Lopez was a good father, to which she replied, “Yes.”

The next witness to the stand was Deputy Morford, who served as a cop for 10 years. Morford himself did not respond to the initial first phone call, but did arrive the next day to speak to Mrs. Lopez and to find Mr. Lopez after he went out following his encounter with his wife.

Morford said that the police arrived knowing both the location of the incident and the reason, a domestic dispute. When questioned about the source by the DA, Morford said that an accidental emergency call to the dispatcher would not have been able to give that type of specific information.

Morford also said that later that night he was called by Mrs. Lopez and notified that Mr. Lopez was by a local Chevron gas station, where he did indeed find the aforementioned Mr. Lopez sleeping in a camper, smelling of alcohol.

Morford had also responded to a prior call by Mrs. Lopez, which Mrs. Lopez had previously claimed was another accidental emergency call made by the phone itself.

During his cross examination, Borruso clarified the details of Mrs. Lopez’s original statement to Deputy Mez, establishing that there was a verbal argument which escalated and led to the police being called. Borruso then went on to argue that drinking and arguing were both not crimes.

After further deliberation between Borruso and Morford as to the legitimacy of Morford’s testimony as he was not present at the crime scene, a statement Judge Richardson found not strong enough to strike out testimony, Mr. Lopez was charged with dissuading a witness and battery. Judge Richardson did not charge Lopez with injuring wireless technology as the phone he took was found to be in good condition.

Additionally, Borruso’s request for Mr. Lopez to have supervised release with a SCRAM device and a GPS tracking system were supported by Judge Richardson, who cited Mr. Lopez’s status as a breadwinner.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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