By Nathan Yanez
Woodland – Serena Moreno is charged with one count of mayhem, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of stalking after allegedly using her car to hit two other women on July 22, 2019. Public Defender Tracie Olson represented Ms. Moreno, with only one witness being called to the stand to testify by Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays.
The first and only witness to be called to testify was the alleged victim in the case, “AJ.” AJ revealed that she didn’t know the defendant prior to the events of the last few months. AJ stated that she had begun a romantic relationship with the father of the defendant’s twins in April 2019. That same month, she allegedly began receiving messages from the defendant. The messages came mostly from Instagram and at one point in the form of texts to the alleged victim’s personal phone. The messages were unkind in nature and referred to AJ in vulgar terms.
Around April or May, the witness said that the defendant drove by her apartment complex’s pool and shouted vulgar words to the victim before driving off. It was also revealed that the defendant allegedly broke AJ’s car windows. Shortly after the incidents, AJ filed a restraining order with the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office.
On July 22, 2019, at around 7 p.m., AJ, her nephew, a friend, and the friend’s child went for a walk in a park near AJ’s apartment complex. They arrived back from the park around 9 o’clock and went into the apartment. AJ went to go walk her friend and her child out to their car. While buckling the child into the carseat, AJ saw a car quickly pass by and park directly in front of her friend’s car. The witness stated the woman yelling from the car was the defendant, Ms. Moreno. At this moment the witness and the defendant allegedly engaged in a physical altercation, which AJ says the defendant provoked. The women at one point stopped fighting to talk but still retained their grasp on each others’ hair.
During the talk, AJ’s younger sister also rushed out to the street and indicated to the defendant to let go of AJ or she would also get involved. Ms. Moreno allegedly did not let go, which caused AJ and her sister to push the defendant to the ground and run across the street to contact law enforcement.
The two women were standing in a car driveway when the defendant got back into her car and allegedly backed up the vehicle and drove into the driveway the two women were occupying. The witness and her sister allegedly were violently hit and pinned between a car already in the driveway and the defendant’s car. The defendant then drove off. AJ’s sister sustained no injuries while AJ herself sustained the loss of her left leg below the knee.
When asked by the defense if the messages and texts stopped after the restraining order, AJ indicated that they indeed stopped. AJ also marked on a diagram of the street where the cars were located. In the ambulance ride to the hospital, AJ refused to speak to the officer as she claimed that this officer helped her with previous incidents from the defendant and wasn’t that helpful. Instead, AJ was interviewed by Officer Mathew Jameson in the hospital two weeks after the incident.
Ms. Olson argued that there was no strong evidence for the count of stalking or for the second count of assault with a deadly weapon, as the victim’s sister sustained no injuries. The court disagreed and found that there was sufficient evidence to try Ms. Moreno on all four counts.
Ms. Olson also then argued for lower bail or for an alternative program like an ankle bracelet. Olson’s argument was that if Ms. Moreno was rich she wouldn’t be in custody and that since bail has already been set, her threat to society already has a price on it. The victims AJ and her sister gave testimonies on why there should be either no bail or a higher bail, as they feared for their lives if Ms. Moreno were to be out of custody. The judge kept the bail at the current amount.
The arraignment is set for Sept. 4, 2019, at 9 am in Department 9.