On Monday afternoon in Department 10, defendant Steven Thomas Long’s preliminary hearing was heard before Judge Daniel Maguire. After officers had taken Long into custody, they learned he was on probation for drug-related charges. He was arrested and booked into the Yolo County Jail for violating his probation conditions, as well as attempted kidnapping.
The People’s first witness was the alleged victim. Since she was a minor, counsel approved a standard oath, but requested to ask foundational competency questions.
During the direct examination, conducted by Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden, the witness said that she was walking to school this past September. When asked if she was afraid of anything that had happened to her when she was walking to school, she hesitated before saying she remembered a man who had grabbed her.
The alleged victim said that she first saw this man near a truck on the opposite side of the street. She added that she did not think the man was talking to anyone and confirmed that no one else was there in the area. She also said that he had pulled her backpack when she had walked a few steps past him.
The witness seemed confused about where the man was standing, but ultimately answered that she remembered him to the left of her, standing almost on the street. She also said he did not say anything and she had never seen him before.
Mr. Linden attempted to help the witness come up with a time frame for the entire interaction between her and the man, but the witness was unable to give a clear answer. She did add, however, that she did not yell or scream when he pulled her backpack, she only thought about how to escape. She tried to run, but said that she did not shrug her backpack off.
The witness then identified the defendant, Steven Long, as the man who had grabbed her and added that, after he had grabbed her, she began running toward her school. She got to school before her classes started, and since the school doors were closed she sat down outside. Two of her friends later approached her, and they were talking also about a man who was following them when they were walking to school. Before the cross-examination, the witness also added that she did not tell any teachers or yard duties, she had only talked about this incident to her friends and the officers who later contacted her.
Criminal Defense Attorney Jennifer Mouzis, representing Long, conducted the cross-examination. Ms. Mouzis started by showing the witness a photo that included a part of the cemetery, the school building, and the parking lot next to the school. Defense counsel asked the witness to mark the direction in which she entered the scene shown in the photo and which way she was walking to get to school.
The witness confirmed that she walked this path the day of the incident around six or seven in the morning.
Upon further questioning, the witness admitted that she did not remember much about the day or what the man was wearing, as the incident occurred several months ago. She even added that she does not clearly remember whether it was the defendant she had identified earlier who had pulled her, since she did not turn around to look at who was pulling her when she felt the initial tug.
Before the witness was excused, she said that she did not go to any school officials to report the incident, but when Ms. Mouzis asked if she had gone to the school office after the incident she said yes.
The People’s next witness was Officer Victor Barajas. Officer Barajas is employed by the Winters Police Department, and has been working there for approximately six months. Officer Barajas said he was on duty on September 6, 2017, and that he was dispatched to Winters Middle School that morning. He was given the description of a Hispanic male in his 50s and it took him around five minutes to get to the school.
Officer Barajas testified that when he arrived at the scene, he made contact with Corporal Gordon Brown who was already with the possible suspect. The witness then identified the defendant as the suspect he had made contact with on September 6, 2017.
According to the witness, Long was wearing a blue t-shirt the day of the incident and had pulled the alleged victim’s backpack strap. The victim ran away afterwards and told school officials about what had happened. Officer Barajas testified to the encounters the victim’s friends had with the defendant, saying that the defendant had caught the other girls’ attention since he was waving his hands in the air and mumbling loudly to himself. When the defendant walked toward the victim’s friends, they started running toward the school as well.
During the cross-examination, Ms. Mouzis showed Officer Barajas a photo of the area around which he had made contact with the defendant. She asked him to mark the exact spot where they arrested Mr. Long. Officer Barajas indicated that the defendant was arrested in front of a house that was in the neighborhood near the school. Ms. Mouzis asked if the officer had knowledge that the person who lived in the house closest to the arresting scene was friends with the defendant, but he answered no.
Defense counsel then played Corporal Brown’s body camera footage from when the defendant was arrested. The footage shows the defendant being asked to sit on the sidewalk while Corporal Brown questions him on how he had gotten to Winters. The defendant becomes annoyed with the questions and says “whatever,” at which point Corporal Brown directs the other officers to handcuff him.
Upon questioning, Officer Barajas agreed with defense counsel that it is wrong to arrest someone based on bad behavior.
Ms. Mouzis continued playing the footage. In the next scene, the defendant is being taken from the sidewalk to the car after he has been handcuffed. As he is being taken to the car, a lady that is walking by can be heard saying, “I been here since 7:30.” Ms. Mouzis asked Officer Barajas if it was important to interview this lady, as she was the one who was friends with the one who lived in the house near the arresting location. Though Officer Barajas said he acknowledges the importance of such an interview, he admitted that he never went back to speak to the lady.
The next witness to give testimony was Officer Morgan Hatcher. Though her testimony was short, she said that she was the one who conducted the field show-up. She added that she did not, however, read the field show-up admonishments until after the victim and her friends identified the defendant together.
The next witness to give testimony will be the friend of the defendant who lives in the house near the arrest site. The preliminary hearing will resume on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Department 10.