Transient Charged in Assault

By Connor Kianpour

A transient man from Woodland has been charged with assaulting an individual with a deadly weapon. On September 12, 2018, a man—hereafter, referred to as “TG”—was walking southbound from Court Street in Woodland toward Main Street at 4 AM when he heard the footsteps and combative voice of a man following him. He continued walking until he reached the Journey Inn on Main Street where the verbal harassment intensified.

TG turned to recognize the man who had followed him as Nickolas Andrew Shatto. The two, having gotten into an altercation five days prior, engaged in physical combat and TG ended up with a stab wound to the chest and a laceration on his bicep after Mr. Shatto pulled a knife on him. TG’s injuries required three and five sutures, respectively.

On September 26, 2018, the preliminary hearing for Mr. Shatto occurred in Department 13, Judge Steven L. Mock presiding. Mr. Shatto has been charged with violating California Penal Code section 245(a)(1), a felony charge that prohibits assault with a deadly weapon upon an individual, and with violating California Penal Code section 12022.7, an enhancement that prohibits the execution of great bodily harm upon an individual. In order to determine whether there is enough evidence to levy such charges against the defendant, the prosecution called a witness to the stand who took a statement from TG regarding the circumstances of the incident that took place on September 12.

Officer Gina Bell of the Woodland Police Department, who is currently assigned to the homeless outreach street team, took to the witness stand. She testified that she spoke to TG while he was on a medical gurney at the UC Davis Medical Center. She reported that TG described he received the wound on his chest after Mr. Shatto lunged at him with a knife and the wound on his bicep after it was struck in his attempt to defend himself. The injuries were photographed and submitted to the court as evidence.

Officer Bell showed TG a lineup of suspects in the case and he identified Nickolas Shatto as the perpetrator of the crime. Furthermore, TG signed an admonition form recognizing the advice and caution that Officer Bell provided in identifying, based on the suspect lineup, who the assailant was.

Prior to the preliminary hearing on the morning of September 26, 2018, Officer Bell reported that she reviewed a video of Detective Ruben Esquivel interviewing Mr. Shatto. According to Officer Bell’s testimony about the interview footage, Mr. Shatto alleges that TG used derogatory profanities against him and stated in the interview that if he had a knife, he would have used it. However, by the end of the interview, Officer Bell posited that Mr. Shatto did admit to having a knife on his person during the altercation.

During the cross-examination of Officer Bell, the defense called into question the officer’s efficacy in gathering information and evidence surrounding the case. It was during this cross-examination that it was revealed Officer Bell never asked TG whether he, too, was carrying a knife on his person or whether TG was under the influence of a controlled substance—as TG has been arrested for possession of methamphetamine in the past. Furthermore, the cross-examination divulged that TG did, in fact, have a two-inch fixed-blade knife on his person on the night of the incident and that the knife was not admitted into evidence once it was discovered. The defense also revealed that Mr. Shatto had a bloody eye on the morning of September 12, 2018.

Taking the aforementioned facts into consideration, the defense argued that the burden of proof rests on the prosecution to prove that Mr. Shatto’s act was not an act of self-defense. Furthermore, the defense maintained that in order for the correlative enhancement to be taken seriously, the prosecution had to call to the stand a witness with medical expertise that could prove the injuries caused to TG could, in fact, be classified as great bodily harm.

Regardless, Judge Mock found that, based upon the evidence, Mr. Shatto used the knife against TG and not for the purposes of self-defense. Mr. Shatto will be held accountable to answer for the charge of violating PC section 245(a)(1), but he will not have to answer for the 12022.7 enhancement. The arraignment for this case is scheduled for October 11, 2018, at 10 AM.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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