By Bryce Gaston
On the evening of July 25, 2018, three apartments were burglarized near the UC Davis campus. Mr. Jerald James Elledge is facing charges for counts of burglary, vandalism, unauthorized entry and resisting arrest. He is pleading not guilty to all of the charges.
Opening statements for the case began today as well as witness testimonies. According to one witness, who was UC Davis student at the time, near 6:30 pm, she was lying in bed at her apartment in Arlington Farms watching a movie when she heard a loud banging noise that seemed to be coming from her front door.
She quickly went to inspect what was happening, but as she got out of bed she found herself face to face with a man she had never seen before. When he saw her, he immediately ran out of the apartment, knocking over a couch cushion on his way out. She ran after him to make sure he had left, which is when she realized he had kicked her door open, causing damage.
She immediately grabbed her phone from her bedroom and called 911. She described the man as a thin, 5’10” Hispanic male in his late 20s to 30s wearing a white tank top. She did not find anything missing from her apartment. Police officers arrived on the scene shortly after. They interviewed the witness and looked around the complex for the subject, but could not find anyone matching the description in the area.
During this process, the police were interrupted with a call reporting another possible burglary in the Tanglewood Apartment complex about five miles away from Arlington Farms. Allegedly, witnesses noticed suspicious activity at the apartments and decided to call the police. They reported seeing a man inside one of the apartments as well as another man messing with a window of the apartment from the outside. They also saw one more male and a female near a car in the parking lot.
Once police arrived at the second location, they interviewed the witnesses to gain more information. Officer Morgan Hatcher testified that, while she was looking at a picture the witnesses had of the suspect’s car, she noticed a man wearing a white tank top carrying a television out of one of the apartments.
When the man noticed the officers, he dropped the television, causing damage, and ran away. Hatcher and a few other officers chased the man around the apartment complex until he ran back into the apartment that he was originally seen coming out of with the television. At the same time, the vehicle parked in the parking lot drove away. The license plate on the car was later found to be registered to Jerald James Elledge. In addition, some of the officers involved in the chase recognized the individual as Mr. Elledge from previous encounters.
Since the door to the apartment was barricaded from the inside, the police quickly set up a perimeter outside the apartment to prevent the suspect from escaping. Two residents, also UC Davis students, living in the apartment next door came out and reported to police that they were hearing loud banging noises on the shared wall between the two apartments.
Officers entered the second apartment where they saw that the suspect had kicked a large hole through the wall in order to escape the adjacent apartment and avoid police. Eventually, with the use of a K9, they were able to convince the suspect to come out of the room he was hiding in. He surrendered and obeyed commands. He was not armed, however he was injured from his escape efforts.
In addition to the large hole in the wall between the two apartments, the police found the washer and dryer moved out of place, a fan ripped from the ceiling, a hole in the ceiling and drywall and insulation on the floor. The People mentioned in their opening statements that the damage done exceeded $1,000.
Along with the television officers saw him walking with, they found other stolen items in the suspect’s possession, including a backpack, Nike shoes, Xbox controllers and keys to a BMW. Jerald James Elledge was arrested and taken to a nearby hospital to treat the injuries he sustained while trying to escape.
While he was at the hospital, the officers brought the original witness from the break-in at Arlington Farms to perform a field show up. A field show up is when a suspect is shown to the witness in order for them to identify whether or not it is the same person they saw committing the crime earlier. According to several testimonies, the witness viewed the suspect as he was handcuffed to the hospital bed. At the time, the witness reported to police that she thought that person was the same one who broke into her apartment earlier that night. She also mentioned that if a 10 was being 100% certain, her confidence level that they had the right person in custody was a 7.
In the courtroom today, the same witness was shown a picture of the defendant, Jerald James Elledge. She said that with a 9 out of 10 level of certainty, she believed the picture to be the man she was face to face with in her bedroom the night of July 25, 2018. However, when asked if that person was in the courtroom today, she looked around the room and answered that she did not see him there.
During the rest of the witness testimonies, the People interviewed five members of the Davis Police Department that assisted in this case. When asked if the defendant’s appearance had changed since the time of his arrest on July 25, 2018, every one of them reported that the defendant appeared to have gained a significant amount of weight. A few officers estimated the weight gain at around 40-50 pounds. Several also noted that his face seemed to be “more filled out.”
Corporal Michael Nash reported that after reading him his Miranda Rights, Jerald James Elledge admitted to breaking the ceiling of the apartment and running from the police in order to get away. Although the People are hoping for the jury to convict the defendant for the various charges, the defense argued in their opening statements that the evidence will show he is not guilty of all of the charges brought against him.