By Lemuel Herg
Today on a Wednesday afternoon in Department 14, with Judge David Rosenberg presiding, Deandre Mur faced charges of seven felony counts and one misdemeanor. His defense was overseen by Jose Gonzalez-Vasquez. The court granted a First Amendment complaint, and then the prosecution proceeded with the first witness.
First on the witness stand was Deputy Derrick Schmidt, a Yolo County deputy sheriff who’s been on the force for 10 years. He testified that on January 31, 2019, at 9:15am in a Woodland ampm, he came into contact with the primary suspect, Mr. Mur.
Mr. Mur had been reported by a passing citizen, complaining of a man in a black Hyundai, armed with a firearm and arguing aggressively on the phone.
Deputy Schmidt heard this report, and pulled into the ampm with his siren blaring, using the PA system to command the reported Mr. Mur to raise his hands into the air. But rather than surrendering , Mr. Mur took off from his car.
Mr. Mur drove away, going around 60-80mph according to Deputy Schmidt, against traffic in the opposite direction, to evade his pursuer. He turned into a shopping center, where again Deputy Schmidt had his siren on, hoping to discourage Mr. Mur. However, Mr. Mur was able to avoid arrest, and sped off to Main Street and Pioneer Avenue, where the deputy soon lost sight of him.
Deputy Schmidt then decided to head to Country Road 98, to start forming a blockade of sorts, coordinating with other Woodland police.
Within less than seven minutes, the black Hyundai was found, around six miles away from the starting spot at the ampm.
Deputy Schmidt soon saw the suspect wading through the muddy fields off on the side of the road, and ordered a perimeter around the field.
With the help of this witness and the police officers creating a perimeter, the suspect was soon spotted along with his firearm, which he threw into a bush somewhere in the vicinity.
The defense, during his cross-examination of this testimony, pointed out that the deputy had not seen the firearm for himself for the entire duration of the chase.
Next the second witness, a Woodland peace officer of 12 years, Jason Drobish, was sworn in and took the witness stand.
Officer Drobish, being part of the traffic unit, testified to having met up with the second hit-and-run victim of Mr. Mur’s escapade. She was tailgated by the suspect, but, seeing as a sheriff’s vehicle was already chasing him, the hit-and-run victim just went to work, assuming that the sheriff’s department would handle the situation and that she could report it afterwards.
To collaborate with her story, Officer Drobish testified to having read the CHP 180 form that corresponded with the black Hyundai that Mr. Mur allegedly stole, and that the damage written on the form matched with the damage seen in person once the car was discovered.
Officer Drobish also testified to having seen the discarded firearm within the suspect’s near vicinity, and that there were two illegal (within California’s jurisdiction) 15-round magazines, all fully loaded with a bullet in the Sphinx’s chamber.
After Officer Drobish, there was one last witness called to the stand: Officer Stephanie Wilson, a Woodland police officer. She was also called to investigate a suspicious man with a firearm at the ampm.
Officer Stephanie testified to having traced the black Hyundai that Mr. Mur used back to the LA-based Hertz rental car company. There, an employee reported that on January 21, 2019, the black Hyundai was stolen.
She also testified to having run Mr. Mur’s Driver’s license, and she found that it was invalid.
After all the witnesses finished their statements, the People returned with their last closing evidence: Mur has multiple felony convictions on his record, banning him from owning firearms and ammunition.
When it came down to sentencing, Mr. Gonzalez was able to convince the judge to move Count 3 (possession of large capacity magazine) to a misdemeanor, but everything else remained as charged.
For now, criminal proceedings have been halted, as Mr. Mur will be examined by a psychiatrist. The trial will proceed in 4 weeks from now, on March 20.