By Danielle Silva
The jury trial of Aaron Lamont Freeman had closing statements delivered today. On November 14, 2017, over twenty tools had been stolen from a van in West Sacramento late in the night. Some witnesses noted a tall individual while another noted a vehicle driving away afterward. The defendant would be charged to the crime through fingerprints found inside of the vehicle and two traffic stops one year prior. Mr. Freeman is charged with committing burglary and grand theft.
Monday in Department 10, Deputy Public Defender James Bradford offered the defense’s closing statement. There was no dispute that the burglary of tools had taken place. There were also witnesses that had seen the event. However, the defense noted the prosecution’s viewpoint failed in proving the identity of the perpetrator beyond a reasonable doubt.
Circumstantial and direct evidence had been present that the prosecution had not addressed. For instance, none of the stolen tools had been recovered. Additionally, the investigation did not go past one set of fingerprints and an investigation that night. The defendant had been stopped at a traffic stop with no relation to the case. The fingerprints found inside the van on the toolbox
would not have been tested until seven months after.
The defense called into question the eyewitness testimony, noting that the descriptions contrasted. In two individuals’ statements, the perpetrator was six feet tall with dark clothing and a hood scrunched up. However, the defendant is shorter than six feet. The witnesses did agree the individual was an African American male wearing a hoodie. However, in the officer’s body camera footage, one of the witnesses states he thought the person in the hoodie was the owner of the van who is not African American.
What vehicle the perpetrator fled in is also up for debate. One witness stated the car was like a truck or minivan, likely silver or white in color. However, another witness stated that the vehicle was light blue or grey and box-shaped like a Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle was also claimed to have a plate with red cursive lettering. Mr. Freeman was found in a vehicle with white lettering.
The defense again called into question the investigation, stating the prints were not made until May and then found to match the defendant. The prints, however, were found in the victim’s toolbox that had been left inside of the vehicle. There was another print outside of the vehicle that Officer Riggins chose not to take and test. In the officer’s mind, the prints on the toolbox were the clearest to take.
The defense clarified that the victim worked as an auto-glass repairman and worked around Northern California. He had lots of clients which lead the toolbox to go around and no information was given about Mr. Freeman.
The previous occasions the prosecution had brought up were in relation to two arrests in 2016. On one occasion, the defendant was sitting in a car with tools that belonged to the company. Mr. Freeman had stated his uncle could provide an answer but the officer did not follow up the defendant’s claim. On another incident, he had been near a vehicle that had been broken into and wearing a glove. The defense argued that the mention of these two instances did not establish what happened on the November 14, 2017, incident.
As no gloves were found, it would not make sense for the perpetrator to take off the gloves once inside the vehicle. If there were no gloves at all, the fingerprints could have been found outside of the van as well but the officer did not take those fingerprints. The defense argued that the evidence is insufficient as the perpetrator had already left and the officer could have gathered more evidence.
Mr. Bradford concluded with stating that the evidence gathering worked off of confirmation bias, gathering evidence to further support one thought rather than look at all possibilities. He asked the jury to find the defendant not guilty.
Following the defense’s closing statements, Deputy District Attorney Daniele Schlehofer offered the prosecution’s rebuttal. She noted the defendant’s argument as conjecture and states that the one week trial had been enough evidence. The fingerprints were sound evidence that the defense did not go into. She did note that if the jury wanted to dismiss the eyewitness accounts, they could. They could use all their experiences to interpret the evidence. The prosecution did state the defense considered the investigation thorough as statements were taken and the fingerprints were analyzed. The previous incidents were evidence of instances where the defendant would go into commercial vehicles.
“Once was an accident, twice a coincidence, three times guilty.”
The prosecution stated the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the prosecution need not disregard all doubt.
The jury was released for deliberation which will continue on Wednesday.