By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO – Watching a Sacramento Kings basketball game, having a few brews – and maybe more than that – could be a recipe for something bad to happen.
Although full details were lacking at a preliminary trial Wednesday in Sacramento County Superior Court, what is known is that three young men – alleged to have partaken in the aforementioned NBA beer imbibing – are now facing felony robbery charges.
A trial is set for just before Halloween after the court found Wednesday that there is enough evidence to bound them over for the trial.
For the most part “eyewitness” evidence consists of surveillance video taken from several Sacramento Light Rail stations that tracked the moves of Deandre Fowler, Alexander Newsome and Alexander Smith, as well as their alleged victim, Ethan Mercado.
That video evidence is a reminder that there is, as courts have ruled, no expectation of privacy when in the public view.
The story of what happened on Oct. 30, 2018, as related by investigating Sacramento Sheriff Deputy Silver Paley, is that the three young defendants were drinking after a Kings game. And for some yet unknown reason had some sort of altercation with one of their drinking partners – Mercado.
Video surveillance of the Broadway Light Rail Station, according to law enforcement, showed at least four men, including the defendants, confront Mercado, who winds up on the ground in some bushes. He was kicked, according to the footage, by at least one defendant.
Although Mercado, in his statement to officers, said at least “five or six” people accosted him, the three defendants are the only ones being held. A fourth person seen on the video appears to back off when the assault began and is not charged, said Paley.
Mercado said his wallet was stolen after he was sent to the ground. The wallet contained $60, he said.
Investigating officers admitted that the victim (Mercado) had been drinking – “he had red eyes, slurred speech,” was the testimony, elicited by Smith’s court-appointed attorney, David Grow.
And defendant Newsome’s counsel, Tamara Soloman, pointed out to the court that although Mercado was assaulted with kicks he didn’t seek medical treatment. She also asked officers if Mercado “fought back.” They said he did not.
Sacramento Police Dept. detective Larry Blagborjn reviewed the Light Rail surveillance recordings and said it appeared Mercado “backed up and fell into the bushes” rather than being physically shoved. But Blagborjn said the video was partially obscured by bushes and “it was dark.”
The detective explained he found the defendants by “working backwards” from the videos. Eventually, all three defendants were apprehended, at least two of them with damning evidence, testified Paley and Blagborjn.
Mercado’s wallet with his son’s medical card was found on the person of Fowler, when he was picked up on the street. A credit card and identification card of Mercado was found in Smith’s room at his grandmother’s house. Newsome had a distinctive marking above his eye that made him easily identifiable from video photos of the incident.