Judge Dismisses Two of Three Charges against Felon in Possession of Firearm


By Sindy Lim

After a full preliminary hearing, Judge Timothy L. Fall concluded defendant José Sanchez Valdez did not assault his brother with a deadly weapon or act in contempt of the court. He dismissed both charges.

The judge, however, decided there was sufficient evidence for the defendant to face the charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.

The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, on June 10, allegedly found a .22 rifle on top of the trailer where Valdez and his family live.

Deputy Sheriff Reiko Matsumura, the People’s first witness, stated she received a dispatch call to the defendant’s house that evening. When she arrived on-site, Valdez’s brother told her the defendant had hit him in the stomach with the “butt end of a rifle” and whipped him with a belt.

The physical altercation ended only when the brother ran outside of the trailer to the car his parents pulled up in.

While Deputy Matsumura couldn’t find the gun in the house, the defendant’s brother suggested checking the trailer’s roof as he once saw Valdez hide a knife there.

Deputy DA Michael Vroman also showed Deputy Matsumura photographs of the brother’s injuries. She described them as the ones on his knees and arms that night.

Under cross-examination by Deputy Public Defender Erin Dacayanan, Dep. Matsumura stated the rifle was inoperable and could not fire a bullet. She also clarified the brother did not fall over when the defendant hit him with the rifle’s buttstock.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Blumer, the People’s second witness, testified about the morning after the incident. While he and a sergeant fluent in Spanish were outside of Valdez’s residence, a car stopped near them. Valdez’s mother was driving with the defendant in the passenger seat.

Deputy Blumer stated Valdez said he beat his brother because the brother was on methamphetamine.

Speaking in Spanish, the mother told the sergeant how she returned home from the store that night and witnessed the defendant chasing her other son, who fell.

According to Blumer, the mother also said the defendant requested that she drive him to his aunt’s house in Woodland that morning. When they both saw Deputy Blumer, Valdez told his mother not to stop the vehicle.

During cross-examination, Dep. Blumer said the defendant’s mother did not see the rifle.

Deputy Sheriff José Vera, the People’s third witness, described an earlier incident on the evening of March 27. Due to a fight between the two brothers, he was dispatched to Valdez’s residence.

The fight began when the defendant’s brother woke up Valdez, who got upset and hit the brother. Aggravated, the defendant also threw a two-liter bottle, hitting their father’s shoulder.

The family ran into the car, but Valdez chased after them and punched the car window, yelling profanities.

Attorney Dacayanan had nothing further in her cross.

When Judge Fall asked if the defense had any last arguments, Attorney Dacayanan referred back to Deputy Matsumura’s testimony, emphasizing that the rifle was inoperable and that the hit resulted in a “double-over, not fall over.” It did not “cause death or grave bodily injury.”

While Judge Fall affirmed the case involved battery, he was also unconvinced of the prosecution’s argument that the gun was used as a deadly weapon.

He referred to a baseball bat and how if someone were to “swing the bat” at another person’s head, that would be obvious use of a deadly weapon. The defendant, however, did not fire the gun. He punched his brother with it three times.

The judge carefully compared the blows to “three fists to the stomach,” repeating the defense’s argument that the brother was not gravely injured.

Arraignment for the charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, though, is set for August 22 at 9 AM.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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