Two cases that were a long time in the making came to Yolo County courtrooms in separate departments on Wednesday. Both were heard briefly, with follow up hearings set in different departments for May.
The case of Ajay Dev appeared briefly before Judge David Reed – who immediately recused himself from hearing the evidentiary hearing, given the fact that he knew one of the witnesses.
Mr. Dev was convicted in the rape of his adopted daughter in 2009 and sentenced to 278 years in prison. His attorneys, however, have filed a motion for a writ of Habeas Corpus and the DA’s office, based on new evidence, has agreed to an evidentiary hearing back in Yolo County.
Deputy DA Steve Mount, who tried the case in 2009, told Judge Reed that they would probably need a series of dates to hold hearings in the afternoon during a judge’s preliminary hearing schedule.
Judge Reed set the matter for May 20 at 10 am. However, they do not know to whose department it will be assigned. It seems that both the DA’s office and the petitioners, represented by Ed Swanson, were in agreement it would not be appropriate to go back to Judge Timothy Fall, who presided over the trial initially.
In the meantime, in Department 10, James Olague had a hearing on his 1437 motion (from SB 1437, signed into law by Governor Brown last September and modifying California’s felony murder rule) to vacate a conviction under the felony murder rule.
Mr. Olague, along with Ernesto Arellano and Oscar Cervantes, were tried and convicted in 2005 in the murders of Robert Stepper and Eric Folsom, and the attempted murders of Vicki Folsom and Jessica Valdez in October 2002. Mr. Olague received a 25-year to life sentence for the murder, plus 20-year terms for four other convictions.
On Wednesday, represented by Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, Judge Janene Beronio suggested that the case be put together with that of Mr. Arellano, who has filed a similar 1437 motion in Department 13, to be heard by Judge Paul Richardson.
The matter has been set for May 6.