By Penelope Tsiopos
WOODLAND – Was the early morning of April 10 a simple joy ride gone wrong, or did Robert Desean Dominic Reed steal a vehicle belonging to the Sacramento Children’s Home? The jury will have to decide.
The prosecution, Deputy DA Alex Kian, began his opening statement by describing this case as a simple instance of car theft. On the early morning of April 10, 2019, Mr. Reed was pulled over when he was caught going the wrong way on a one way street. He gave the officers a fake name twice and the vehicle’s registration was expired, while the car insurance was valid.
The story became more interesting when it was discovered that the van belonged to the Sacramento Children’s Home. Mr. Reed claimed he worked there and was just trying to “pick up chicks.” The prosecution continued that they called “JG” who is the manager at the organization. JG has no knowledge of Mr. Reed. There was also a white substance found on the driver’s seat. The prosecution asked the jury to find him guilty on all counts.
The defense, Deputy Public Defender Emily Fisher, opened with, “He made many mistakes in the early morning of April 10, 2019, but stealing a vehicle was not one of them.” She claimed that Mr. Reed was afraid, especially since there was a warrant out for him and his passenger was an immigrant.
The van was not reported stolen until many hours after the incident. She asked the jury to find him guilty on what he is guilty of – but not for stealing the van.
The first witness was the on-call manager at the Sacramento Children’s Home. He is an agency trainer and a therapist. The vehicles are not directly under his supervision, so he is not aware of who uses the vehicles. He described that the organization has multiple campuses and each one has its own vehicle, where three to four employees have access to said vehicles. He stated that this specific vehicle is from the Valley High Campus.
The prosecution asked JG if he recognized the defendant’s real name and then asked if he recognized the alias that Mr. Reed gave the police. JG said no to both, and that he has never had any employees with either name. Then the prosecution asked if he could see any of his employees in the courtroom and he said no, and then followed up with, “But I cannot see.” He claimed that the last time he saw the specific vehicle keys was during Christmas time.
He talked about what the organization does and about a federal program that sends temporary employees, who also use the van. These employees are moved around every nine months. He himself has never hired them and has only met them a few times.
It was revealed the only reason why he was involved in this case is because he is the on-call manager. He stated he had no personal knowledge of the case and that he received all his information through other people. When the police called him in the early morning of April 10 he had to double check that the van was actually missing.
He made it clear that the van is intended only for the purposes of the Sacramento Children’s Home. It was not intended to “pick up girls.” The designated drivers also must have a valid license.
The next witness, Officer Davidson, was one of the officers who pulled Mr. Reed over. There was no damage noted on the van. She described his behavior as cooperative, other than giving the wrong name and birthdate. She stated that he acted confused when his information was not coming up.
The officer was shown two images of a pipe which had white substance near it. It was not a marijuana pipe because marijuana residue becomes green or brown, and this pipe had a larger bulbous end and the white residue – indicating that it was a meth pipe.
The defense asked if she ran the license plate before pulling the van over and she replied that she had not. She pulled him over because he drove in the wrong direction. She had no suspicion that the van was stolen, until Corporal Kwong who came later to the scene mentioned the possibility. Her primary concern was finding out Mr. Reed’s identity.
When the police searched the van they did not find any tools or weapons. It appeared that Mr. Reed used the key to use the car. The police arrested him because there was a warrant out for him, and because of the pipe.
The final witness was Deputy Sheriff Jose Pinedo. He identified the defendant in court as the same man that was pulled over that morning. In his testimony the prosecution pulled up a video of Dep. Pinedo asking the defendant for his name and date of birth. He repeatedly asked Mr. Reed why his name was not appearing in the database and Mr. Reed insisted he had no idea why. He finally gave his name up and continued to cooperate. Pinedo stated that no one followed up on the stolen van.
The officer then asked what they, the police, should do with the passenger. Mr. Reed said, “Let him go home… he was just here for the ride.” The ride was “picking up chicks” and having a good time. Mr. Reed admitted that he was scared because of his driving, and because of the immigrant in his car who did not have papers. Mr. Reed did not indicate he was nervous about the van being stolen.
This trial will resume tomorrow at 1:30.