Brief Hearings Heard in Dev, Olague Cases

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.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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    1. David Greenwald

      It is not clear how long it would last.  But it appears it would be over multiple days over the course of several weeks.

      The judge could grant a new trial or deny a motion for a new trial.  If the judge denies it, it’s not clear what the next step would be.  If he grant it, the DA’s office could decide to proceed with a new trial or they could drop the charges and release Ajay Dev.

  1. Bill Marshall

    If Ajay is exonerated, or at least charges dropped (I’m convince both would be appropriate), it begs the question of what happens to the false accuser, who translated the wired testimony?

    Suspect is, perfect life, able to do it again, secure in her immigration status as a ‘victim’ (of something that may well never have happened), free to manipulate others again, and the law won’t ever touch her (if they did, she’d probably bring an assault, unjust prosecution, discrimination, etc. lawsuit)… makes you want to believe in a ‘higher power’ (to sort it out), or kharma… or some other “payback” option…

    1. Edgar Wai

      I think the problem is the relation between VAWA and granting immigration status. It entices too many con people that are willing to destroy a person’s life for their own life.

      If VAWA believes in profanity as abusive violence, the VAWA supported accuser would be a murderer, and VAWA the murder weapon.

      The relation between accusing abuse and granting citizenship sharpen VAWA into a weapon.

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