By Brooke Pritchard
Despite the defendant walking past a recording studio in the home, no property was stolen. The major occurrence was that the front door was kicked in and property was disturbed in an interesting manner. Some of the silverware and sharp cutlery knives were taken out of the drawer and laid onto counters, an iPad was flipped over, and a phone was picked up without making a call. The preliminary hearing for this case was heard in Department 13.
The hearing began with the victim giving testimony that he received an alert sent to his email that there was an intruder in his home. He testified that he saw the defendant from his security camera. According to the victim, he saw the man with a bright light kick in his front door and close the door behind himself.
The next witness, Officer Richard Towle, gave testimony on the scene since he had reported to the Woodland home. He noticed that the door itself and the dead bolt lock were not damaged. However, the framing of the door was damaged, which caused the lock to be unusable. Towle also noted that there were splinters coming off from the lock. He suggested that the cost of repair to the front door would be 2000 dollars. Towle brings credibility in his estimate due to his personal experience of repairing a similar, heavy wooden door by himself and due to his past experience as a teenager working with a contractor.
The defense objected to the estimated cost of repairing the door based on the lack of credibility of Towle’s experience, as Towle has never been a licensed contractor and his experience working with a contractor was 20 years ago. The court overruled, explaining that the estimate may not be entirely accurate, but the summation of how to repair the door with Towle’s previous experience demonstrates that the cost to repair the door is at least more than 400 dollars. This was a significant ruling because, if the destruction of property was not found to be more than 400 dollars then the person liable for the damage would only be facing a misdemeanor.
In ending arguments, the defense continued to focus on the cost of repairs needed for the front door. The defense argued that the cost of the door repairs is unclear for numerous reasons and that the proof of the costs to repair is the burden of the prosecution. One reason is that the victim’s friend helped repair some aspects to the door at no charge, so the cost of repairs should be modified. The second reason is that Towle’s testimony on the cost of repairs is not credible since he is not a licensed contractor, and therefore he does not understand whether the door only requires a patch job. The last reason is that the cost of the kick plate is unclear. A kick plate is a security feature that reduces that amount of stress and therefore damage to the door when a person kicks open the door.
The prosecution argued that, while the door has been temporarily fixed, the door is not quite the same as before the incident and the victim is entitled to proper repairs.
The defendant was held to answer and the arraignment for this case will be heard in Department 10 on Friday, May 24.