By Pedro Maturana
The preliminary hearing for Sterling Samm, Jr., resumed Wednesday with the prosecution continuing to question the alleged victim, “Ms. N.” Sterling Samm is being charged with kidnapping and vandalism, while having prior convictions for an incident that occurred in Davis on July 2, 2018.
The prosecution called Ms. N back to the stand.
Ms. N testified that she was afraid of Samm’s screaming and banging on a car when she ran toward the office of the Motel 6 in Davis. Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes asked Ms. N why she didn’t just go back to the room where she and the defendant were staying. She replied that she didn’t want to keep on fighting.
Hasapes asked Ms. N about a prior incident where she spoke with an officer and if had sustained any injuries then. She said she didn’t remember. Ms. N testified that she “probably” got into a physical altercation with the defendant. “Why probably?” asked Hasapes. “Because we often fight,” said Ms. N.
Ms. N testified that her altercations with Samm are sometimes arguments with raised voices and sometimes they hurt each other. During the physical altercations, Ms. N testified that “naturally” she cannot use as much force as Samm.
When asked if Ms. N has come away with bruises after a fight, she replied that, yes, she has sensitive skin and bruises easily.
Under cross-examination by Deputy Public Defender Dave Muller, Ms. N testified that she has instigated fights with Samm in the past where she hit him first. When asked how many times, she had no idea.
Ms. N recalled her statement where she admitted that she told the officer at the scene numerous lies. She told him that Samm ruined her life and that he hit her. She also admitted that Mr. Samm wanted to leave the motel and was calling a friend to come pick him up. She testified that Samm couldn’t leave because she had his money and his belongings in the car, for which she had the keys.
Ms. N testified that when she tried to give Mr. Samm his money in the lobby of the motel, he shoved it away. He wanted the police called. Ms. N’s intent was to have him arrested because they would otherwise fight all night. She didn’t know if it would be a physical altercation or an oral argument, but she knew that they would keep fighting.
Ms. N then testified that, before the officers arrived at the scene, she and Mr. Samm had pushed each other, but he didn’t hit her. Ms. N also testified that she had scratched Mr. Samm on the side of his calf with her keys. He didn’t have pants on and she broke the skin when she did it.
According to Ms. N, when the officer arrived at the scene, he noticed a bruise under her right eye. Muller asked Ms. N if she remembers where she got the bruise. She replied that it was either at a motel in Vacaville or in Davis.
Hasapes asked Ms. N if she could recall a fight that occurred in Dixon. She could barely recall the details.
Ms. N testified that when they were sitting on the bed together, she was smoking a cigarette and, out of anger, scratched his leg with her keys. According to Ms. N, after the scratch, Mr. Samm did not threaten her immediately, but when they were in the lobby, she testified that he said he would send somebody to do something to her. Yet, he didn’t put his hands on her.
The prosecution called Officer Chay McCampbell from the Davis Police Department to the stand.
McCampbell responded to a verbal argument at Motel 6 around 1:38 a.m. When he arrived on the scene, he spoke with Mr. Samm. When he checked on Ms. N, he noticed a large contusion under her left eye. McCampbell described Ms. N as being anxious for him to leave. She was scared, shaking, and her voice was fluctuating.
McCampbell also noticed a “fresh” cut on her lip. The cut was still bleeding.
McCampbell testified that Ms. N told him that she and Mr. Samm had had an argument about a blanket. Mr. Samm became angry and demanded that he get his things from the vehicle.
Ms. N told the officer that the vehicle was unlocked, and she stayed in the motel because she was worried that he would beat her in the car. She then began to smoke a cigarette and then scratched him with the keys.
According to McCampbell, Mr. Samm allegedly told Ms. N that he was going to break her jaw. Then he put a blanket over her head, and she couldn’t breathe. He told her he was going to kill her. Additionally, when they were sitting on the bed, he struck her in the face and head which caused her to hit the headboard. She later complained to the officer about pain on her head.
Mr. Muller asked McCampbell if he recalled that he had said all the injuries were two to three days old prior to the day of the incident. He said yes, all the injuries. Additionally, when observed, Mr. Samm did not have injuries on his hands as if he had hit someone.
Both the defense and prosecution rested their cases.
In a closing statement, Muller mentioned that the People haven’t proved that the injuries occurred on the day of the incident or in the county of Yolo. If they did occur that day, there would be no jurisdiction. Also, it is a guessing game as to whether the bruise was under the left or the right eye – McCampbell said left, Ms. N said right.
Given the evidence, Muller argued that there is no reason to hold Mr. Samm in custody and asked the judge to set the charges aside.
Hasapes argued that Ms. N was shaking and crying on the stand. She also testified that there was pushing between her and Mr. Samm. Most importantly, the cut on her lip was fresh, according to McCampbell.
Judge Paul K. Richardson said that while he is aware of Ms. N’s reluctance on the stand, and of the contradicting testimonies, he is convinced by Officer McCampbell’s story. Ms. N was afraid to leave the motel room and she had a fresh bruise under her eye.
The court ruled to keep Mr. Samm in custody. Arraignment is scheduled for March 28.