by Connor Kianpour
The preliminary hearing for the case of Stacey Marie Carr began in Department 13 of the Superior Court of Yolo County on November 26, 2018, Judge Paul K. Richardson presiding. Ms. Carr has been charged with stealing a black 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer from Avis Rent A Car at the Sacramento International Airport in the autumn of 2016.
The prosecution first called a representative from Avis Rent A Car who conducted the internal investigation regarding the missing rental car to the witness stand. The representative testified that the last time the Mitsubishi Lancer was reportedly seen on the lot was November 1, 2016. On November 19, he received an automated message from the operating system that the car rental service uses to keep track of their rentals saying that the Lancer was not generating revenue. Because it is company policy to wait 30 days before reporting a car as stolen because of the possibility that embezzlement rather than theft took place, the representative did not report the Mitsubishi Lancer to the police as stolen until December 19, 2016.
In his cross-examination of this witness, Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzales-Vasquez unearthed some aspects of the evidence admitted for the preliminary hearing that were unclear and disconcerting. For one, Mr. Gonzales brought to attention the fact that the evidence marked as People’s 1 indicates that the Mitsubishi Lancer was last seen on October 30, 2016 while the witness testified that it was last seen on November 1, 2016. Secondly, the cross-examination illuminated that there seemed to have been another car similar to the Mitsubishi Lancer that was rented by Ms. Carr which may have confused this entire investigation.
According to the rental car company’s records, a black 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage was rented by Ms. Carr from November 1, 2016 to November 3, 2016. According to records made available to the court, the Mitsubishi Mirage was reported to have 39,463 miles on it when it was checked out by Ms. Carr and 39,464 miles on it once it was returned to Avis Rent a Car. Mr. Gonzales-Vasquez asked the representative from the rental car company how likely it would be for a vehicle to be rented for 48 hours only to gain 1 mile in mileage during his cross-examination. The representative testified that this was likely a mistake made on the part of the rental car company, which called into question the reliability of any of the records provided to the prosecution by Avis Rent a Car.
The prosecution petitioned the court for a motion that would require the representative to return to court on November 27, 2018 with records of accurate rental histories pertaining to the Mitsubishi Lancer and the Mitsubishi Mirage. The defense objected to the motion, but the motion was granted by the court.
Three more witnesses were called to the stand after this point. Officer Samuel Gee of the West Sacramento Police Department testified to the arrest and investigation of Ms. Carr on December 20, 2018. Officer Gary Paul testified to filling out the CHP 180 form for the stolen Mitsubishi Lancer and confirmed that he did not have access to any documents pertinent to Avis Rent a Car’s internal investigation regarding the stolen vehicle. Lastly, Deputy Michael Duggins of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office who conducted an investigation in this case was called to the stand by Mr. Gonzales of the defense. Deputy Duggins testified that the representative whom he spoke to from Avis Rent a Car on March 7, 2017 claimed that he never had a rental contract with Ms. Carr.
The preliminary hearing will continue tomorrow in Department 13 at 1:30 PM.