By Danielle Eden C. Silva and Grace Jung
Man Points Gun at Wife Twice Inside of Their Home
By Danielle Eden C. Silva
On February 12, 2019, a man was arrested in his home after pointing a gun twice at his wife’s face. He is charged with three felony counts of threatening to commit a crime which would result in death or great bodily injury, attempted criminal threats, and intimidating a victim. The first two counts each have an enhancement concerning the use of a firearm.
Mr. James Curtis Sled of West Sacramento berated his wife one morning and began throwing things. The defendant retrieved one of his shotguns and pointed it in her face twice, which the wife pushed away each time. After he put it down, the wife put away the shotgun and called the police. According to the prosecution, the defendant told her to hang up and not answer when they call back, which she did. Mr. Sled then went out to the patio. When the police arrived, the wife spoke with Officer Alec Miller, not mentioning anything originally but eventually revealing she had been threatened with a gun. The defendant refused to leave the condo for 32 minutes before coming out.
The defense’s opening statements noted that the situation had many other details that had not been noted. Both attorneys noted the wife must have stayed in “sustained fear” the entire time. The defense argued that she was not in sustained fear, as she noted being shocked at having the gun in her face. When Mr. Sled put the gun down, he also openly admitted he was crazy and left the room. The wife was not told to put the shotgun away. The defense argued the wife called the police because Mr. Sled was going to break precious items of property, as he came back into the living room to break items. The defense urged the jury to pay attention to exact words, when they happened and the reactions to them.
The wife began her testimony after opening statements. She had been married to the defendant for 28 years. He had never threatened her for the majority of their time together but Mr. Sled began to change in the last few years. Before Thanksgiving of 2018, her family had suffered as a result of the Paradise fires and had gotten a motor home Mr. Sled was supposed to receive. He became angry after that. After Thanksgiving, he told her he wanted a divorce, which she did not expect.
In the beginning of 2019, Mr. Sled started cussing and yelling at her. He would never hit her, but he would often address her in derogatory terms and have fits of uncontrollable rage. The wife stated around the time of the incident she had been filing for disability benefits, as her husband hasn’t worked since 2007. However, she did not believe this affected their relationship. Mr. Sled had been having suicidal thoughts, avoiding taking his medication and openly stating he wanted to die.
A week before the incident, she had driven the defendant to a colonoscopy procedure. He had been yelling at her to and from the procedure. During the car ride, he attempted to reach the steering wheel and turn into incoming traffic three times, unresponsive to her words. She wasn’t sure if the defendant was under medication at that moment, but on the way home after the colonoscopy he had told her to stop the car so he could smoke. The witness told him she would go get gas and he said not to pick him up again if she did that. As she got gas, she returned and he told her off. The wife decided to drive away and eventually was called back by Mr. Sled to be picked up.
The main incident of this case happened on Feb. 12, 2019. Mr. Sled and his wife had just gotten out of bed and gotten dressed when the defendant started cussing and ripping up their wedding photo. He threw the pieces at her and then threw all the items on the dining room table on the floor. The wife told the defendant he needed to stop. Mr. Sled went back to the bedroom and retrieved one of his two shotguns from under the bed, taking it out and pointing it in her face.
According to the witness, he had said, “I’m going to kill you now and get it over with.”
Not expecting the gun to be pointed in her face, she pushed it away only for him to put it back up to her face. After pushing it away again, he put the gun down and back into the case, stating, he could hit and kill her with the butt of the gun. Mr. Sled headed out to the patio for some fresh air. During the interaction, she had been “scared, terrified, unbelieving.”
While he was outside, she took the gun and placed it in the trunk of her car. When she returned to the living room, Mr. Sled stated he was going to go back to breaking things. As there was a curio cabinet with family heirlooms, the wife called the police to stop Mr. Sled. He said she better hang up, which she did. She also did not answer when dispatch called back.
As the police came, Mr. Sled paced. The wife went to talk with the police, not really wanting to get her husband in trouble. She would eventually mention the gun in talking with Officer Miller but not until later on. Mr. Sled would be arrested that day after speaking on the phone with the wife and not leaving the condo for 32 minutes.
The wife stated she wanted to protect the defendant and didn’t want that to happen again. She later filed a restraining order, giving some discrepancies with the report but the two accounts contained similar themes. In the restraining order reasons, she noted, “He could have hit me with the butt of the gun,” instead of claiming he said that.
The witness’s testimony will continue in the afternoon session.
Verbal Argument Quickly Escalates into Criminal Threat with Use of Firearm; Victim Testifies
By Grace Jung
On Feb. 12, 2019, the alleged victim remained on the second floor of her condominium, waiting for the police to arrive. She expressed her fear, as she had become a victim of domestic violence for the first time, claiming that her husband threatened to shoot her with a 12-gauge shotgun after an escalation of a verbal argument.
The alleged victim testified that she saw her husband, Curtis Sled, bring out a case, walk to the hallway, and take a shotgun out of its case. Although she did not witness the gun itself being loaded, the victim testified that she knew her husband had a gun in his possession for several years.
She testified that she noticed a certain look of hate and anger on her husband’s face when he told her to hang up from 911 call, as “he was very angry.”
The victim emotionally indicated that her husband had threatened her that day and her fear has increased ever since because she knows he will get out of jail in the future. She added that she does not know when his anger will appear again and be directed toward her.
After testifying that Mr. Sled had threatened to hit her with the stock of the shotgun, she claimed that she never wants to see his anger, rage, and a gun facing her again.
In the re-cross by Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez, the victim confirmed that she has been in contact with the victim support staff and claimed that the counseling sessions have helped guide her on how to go on from that incident.
The People brought in their witness, Officer Alec Miller, a peace officer working for the West Sacramento Police Department. He had been on duty on Feb. 12, 2019 and dispatched because of a call for a 911 hang-up.
Officer Miller testified that he knocked on the victim’s door and spoke with her and noticed her shaken demeanor, as she was in emotional shock. When he asked her why she had dialed 911, the victim stated that it was due to a verbal argument between her and her husband, who was also present inside the house.
After speaking to her for roughly 15 minutes, Officer Miller claimed that she went inside her unit and came back with the information that she had the shotgun that her husband had threatened her with in the trunk of her car, and handed him her car key with permission for him to retrieve it.
He testified that the shotgun was unloaded when he took it out of the victim’s car.
Officer Miller articulated that his primary concern was the safety of himself, the victim, officers, and other citizens, which prompted him to speak on the phone with Mr. Sled as he initially refused to come out of the house.
The prosecution projected Officer Miller’s body cam footage of his interaction with the alleged victim. It revealed the officer knocking on the door and the victim coming out of her unit.
“I’m so numb from him yelling and screaming at me.”
In addition, the prosecution provided an audio recording of a telephone conversation with a transcript of the interaction between Officer Miller and Mr. Sled. It contained footage of the officer trying to convince Mr. Sled to come out of the house and cooperate with law enforcement.
Mr. Sled asserted, “I cannot do that,” and refused to comply as Officer Miller communicated to him on the phone that he didn’t want to take severe measures and break into the house. Mr. Sled responded with a strong declaration of, “I have no bullets” and, “I’m not coming out. Break it down.”
The recording ended with Mr. Sled hanging up the phone.
The prosecution then rendered more footage of Officer Miller’s body cam with a transcript of Mr. Sled walking toward the police with his hands up. He was taken into custody and Officer Miller read him his Miranda rights.
Mr. Sled uttered in the recording, “There’s nobody in there sir,” as he agreed for the police to perform a protective sweep of the condominium unit.
According to Officer Miller, a protective sweep is a very limited search for people instead of specific objects. In this case, the objective was searching for a firearm.
Moreover, while other officers were doing a protective sweep of the unit, he was told that a second firearm was discovered underneath their bed.
Mr. Sled further stated that he had threatened his wife out of “idiotic anger” and expressed that it was due to an argument, an “ongoing thing that has been going on” between him and his wife.
In the cross-examination by Mr. Gonzalez, he confirmed with Officer Miller that Mr. Sled had complained about his chest pain after his arrest, which engendered Officer Miller to meet with him at a hospital.
He had also asked the victim if Mr. Sled was suicidal and she responded that he didn’t want to take his blood pressure medication.
Closing arguments will take place at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning in Department 14, then the jury will deliberate.