By Penelope Tsiopos and Kelsey Stewart
Three More Witnesses Testify in Tanglewood Case
By Penelope Tsiopos
On a peaceful evening at Tanglewood Apartments, a man who had been caught allegedly breaking into an apartment by a hole in a closet that connects two apartments was surrounded by the police.
Jerald James Elledge, Jr., is charged with two separate robberies iat Arlington Farms and Tanglewood on July 25, 2018. The court heard testimony from three witnesses, two police officers and a police service specialist.
The first witness was Davis Police Officer Richard Squibbs, who has worked for three years in Davis and responded to the first call at Arlington Farms. Officer Squibbs testified that he surveyed an apartment briefly and then was called to go to Tanglewood.
Deputy District Attorney Shelby Davitt asked him if he had his body camera turned on and he said yes. He claimed that it took him four minutes to get to Tanglewood Apartments. Davitt then presented to the court the body camera surveillance footage from Officer Squibbs on the night of the alleged incident.
He testified he was not sure who the first person on the crime scene was, but he did claim he got a good look at Mr. Elledge’s face and body. The officer claimed that Elledge was allegedly covered in sheet rock dust, which was most likely due to his going through a hole in the closet to burglarize a Tanglewood apartment.
The court addressed Mr. Elledge’s change in weight since the alleged incident, establishing that Elledge has gained between 50 to 60 pounds, altering his appearance severely. The prosecution showed an old photo of Mr. Elledge to Officer Squibbs to compare the drastic change. Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson asked Officer Squibb if he was qualified in estimating body weight, to which the officer replied he was not.
Officer Squibbs interviewed the alleged victim of the Arlington apartment that was broken into, and she described a man similar to Mr. Elledge, who was then found at Tanglewood. He gave her a six-pack, which is a lineup of six photos of people with the same features she described, and the Arlington resident identified Mr. Elledge’s photo as the person she saw burglarizing her apartment, creating a connection between the two crime scenes.
Defense counsel questioned Officer Squibbs on the condition of the Tanglewood apartment, and the officer answered that it appeared to be ransacked, with the washer and dryer moved into a hallway and things thrown around. According to Officer Squibbs, Mr. Elledge allegedly climbed through the window of one Tanglewood apartment and then went through a hole he created into the closet of the next door apartment, where police would find him.
According to Officer Squibbs, they coaxed Mr. Elledge out of the apartment by threatening to send a canine in, although no one was harmed. According to Officer Squibbs, the police had had a few run-ins with Mr. Elledge beforehand so they were aware of who he was.
The next witness to testify was Davis Police Officer Matt Franti, who has worked for the Davis Police Department for 22 years. He was called to the Tanglewood scene and then accompanied the Arlington resident to the hospital where the officer asked her if she could identify Mr. Elledge.
She identified Mr. Elledge in the hospital as the man who had entered her apartment. The officer testified that she had a clear view of Mr. Elledge lying on his backside, handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Defense counsel showed Officer Franti a picture apparently taken at the hospital during the moment the alleged victim identified Mr. Elledge, and Officer Franti, strangely, did not recognize the photo or the setting it depicted and was unsure of who took the photo.
The third witness was Sherry Kolb, who has worked at the Davis Police Department for 24 years as a Police Service Specialist. Although she is not an officer, she helps with collecting evidence and photographing crime scenes.
The day after the incident allegedly occurred she went and took photos at Arlington Farms, especially of the door of the apartment.
According to her testimony, it was repeatedly kicked. However, although the prosecution attempted to link the bottom of the shoes Mr. Elledge was wearing on the night of the incident to footprints found on the door, the judge stopped this line of questioning, stating that the jury could decide for themselves whether any such link existed.
It was at this moment that the court recessed for lunch.
Witnesses Called in Davis Man’s Re-Trial
By Kelsey Stewart
In Department 14, the court session today ended with the defendant taking off his shirt, revealing a tight white tank top to the jury.
Jerald James Elledge is currently facing a re-trial which is set to conclude tomorrow morning. Earlier this year, his trial ended with a hung jury and now he is facing one felony count and one enhancement for a violation of Penal Code 459, burglary. Mr. Elledge is the suspect in two apartment invasions in Tanglewood Apartments and Arlington Farms on July 25, 2018.
Elledge’s connection to the two break-ins was solidified by matching descriptors from the Arlington Farms and Tanglewood incidents: a Hispanic male in his twenties or thirties, thin, short brown hair, facial hair and a white tank top.
Last summer, in Arlington Farms, a female victim’s front door was kicked down, resulting in a loud bang. The victim got out of bed to find out the cause of the noise and was met with the perpetrator. Their encounter lasted around five to ten seconds, with the victim staring at the perpetrator, giving the description that matched that of a similar break-in occurring shortly afterward at Tanglewood Apartments, around a ten-minute drive from the scene.
Prosecutor Shelby Davitt called Officer Ernest Roberts of the City of Davis Police Department to the witness stand. Officer Roberts followed up with the Arlington Farm victim on August 8, 2018, to ensure the correct identification of Mr. Elledge. Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson questioned the accuracy of the victim’s identification of Elledge, stating that the victim was not shown a “six-pack” (also known as a photograph lineup) and only confirmed Elledge’s identity from memory. After the night of the incident, she stated she felt, on a scale of 9 out of 10, that Elledge was the perpetrator from their five-second encounter.
Next, Sergeant Eric Labbe of the City of Davis Police Department was summoned to the stand. A sergeant and a patrol supervisor since 2002, he was one of the officers dispatched to Tanglewood where the second apartment invasion took place on July 25, 2018. He was called to respond to a suspicious circumstance where individuals were seen gathering in front of a tampered window screen, speaking to another unknown individual inside an apartment. There was also a vehicle involved with the incident that was registered to Mr. Elledge. Sergeant Labbe witnessed Mr. Elledge exiting the walkway between apartment units carrying a large screen TV. When Sgt. Labbe announced he was with the police, Elledge reportedly dropped the television and ran. Sergeant Labbe and two other officers pursued the suspect. His testimony was supplemented with body camera footage identifying Elledge exiting the apartment.
Sergeant Labbe also spoke to the lack of a photo lineup in identifying Elledge, stating that a field show up is more likely to be accurate and better for prosecuting than referencing a photograph printed on a piece of paper. A juror questioned how certain must a victim be in order to keep the suspect detained. Sergeant Labbe spoke to the totality of the circumstances and offered a holistic approach involving the victim’s emotional state, other witnesses and tangible evidence. Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson questioned what evidence the City of Davis Police Department had against Elledge other than the victim’s identification. Sergeant Labbe identified Elledge in court today, stating that, although Elledge now appears less thin than he was at the time of his arrest last year, he was still identifiable.
Corporal Michael Nash of the City of Davis Police Department was next called to the stand. Corporal Nash was elected investigating officer of the case and identified Elledge in court today. He was one of the officers guarding the perimeter when Elledge reportedly hid himself inside the apartment, and Nash noted that he heard thuds and bangs inside the apartment. Elledge, injured, was taken to the Emergency Room at Sutter Davis Memorial Hospital, where he was identified by the victim from Arlington Farms.
Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson ended his defense for Elledge today by asking one simple thing of the suspect. He asked Elledge to remove his shirt for the jury. Elledge unbuttoned his cream-colored button-down shirt, revealed himself to be wearing a white tank top very similar to the one he wore on that July day last year when he was arrested. His stature was noticeably different than the lean one caught on the body cam of Sergeant Labbe. His demeanor was stoic as he was asked to turn around for the jury, giving all in Department 14 a clear view of his physique. Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson rested his case at that plain image.
Tomorrow morning, the defense and prosecution are set to give their closing remarks and the jury’s deliberation will begin.