By Ariana Camarena, Julie Maruskin, Simran Bhatt
WOODLAND – On February 1, 2019, the defendant, Joseph Adrian Onteverio, allegedly followed his neighbor into a West Sacramento intersection where he allegedly brandished his firearm in a threatening manner. The defendant and the Casa Mobile Park resident had a history of previous altercations which led the resident to fear for his life.
The first witness to testify was the Casa Mobile resident who had a history of altercations with the defendant. The witness testified that his first altercation with the defendant was at the community pool months prior. The witness went intending to get a drink from the machine when he turned and allegedly saw the defendant holding a gun. The witness testified to being afraid, and proceeded to turn around when he allegedly heard shots fired approximately 10 to 15 feet away. The witness proceeded to have his wife call the police.
On Feb. 1, 2019, the resident was leaving the Casa Mobile home park toward West Capitol Avenue when he saw the defendant far ahead in the road. The defendant was allegedly driving a small grey Scion and turned around to follow the resident to the middle of the intersection of West Capitol and Merkley Avenues. The witness testified that the defendant allegedly aligned the vehicle with the witness’ and brandished what appeared to be a black automatic weapon.
The witness reversed his car and returned to the Casa Mobile home park to call the police. People’s Exhibit 1 displayed a picture of the automatic weapon and was shown to the witness during testimony. However, the witness hesitated to identify the weapon as the same one brandished by the defendant.
The witness is subject to recall by the defense.
The second witness to testify was West Sacramento Police Officer Cornell Smith who was dispatched to Casa Mobile the day of the incident. Officer Smith testified that four or five other officers were on scene when she decided to establish the perimeter for everyone’s safety. Officer Smith was aware from the report that the alleged defendant had a firearm and wanted to take precautions to keep everyone safe. Upon arrival, the officers were unaware of the defendant’s presence and attempted to make calls. The officers waited outside of the unit when the defendant’s girlfriend answered the phone.
The defendant exited the unit and complied with the authorities. The defendant stated that his firearm was inside his home and was then detained into custody.
Officer Smith testified that in March 2018, she was dispatched in regard to a physical altercation that erupted between the defendant and the witness. The officer testified that there had been an alleged disagreement over children throwing rocks. Both parties had minor injuries and did not want to pursue legal action. The witness appeared to be agitated, while the defendant was sitting on a porch area, slurring his words when being questioned and throwing up. The officer testified that the defendant allegedly appeared to be under the influence.
The third witness identified himself as Officer William Silvermaster, a police officer with the West Sacramento Police Department for three years. He testified to being qualified in his training through academy and field training. The witness testified to responding to the dispatch by arriving at the Casa Mobile mobile home park to see about a brandishing firearm incident.
The officer’s role in the scene was to lock down the perimeter by looking for “hardcover.” The prosecuting attorney asked the officer what was meant by the statement “looking for hardcover,” and the expert witness explained he had to look for anything that a bullet could not go through, which was a common practice of securing the perimeter in a case with a firearm involved. This role was an urgent one, considering the supposed threat is not only “a danger to the community” but it was “a danger to law enforcement,” as Officer Silvermaster described the circumstance.
The witness had knowledge based on the dispatched call that the firearm belonged to a Joseph Onteverio and that his location was Unit 87 of the Casa Mobile community. After Mr. Onteverio left the residence and complied with law enforcement, his girlfriend gave consent to have the unit searched. Within the unit, Officer Silvermaster testified to finding paraphernalia on the west side of the unit within Mr. Onteverio’s bedroom. The magazine of the gun was found under the bed, the shotgun shells were on the shelf, and the grip and barrel of the gun were retrieved from the residence. The witness described the gun to be semi-automatic, which allows the gun to be reloaded automatically at a quicker rate of time.
The prosecuting attorney presented People’s Exhibit 1 and People’s Exhibit 2 to the witness, which were two photos of the firearm. The witness was asked if the photos were good representations of what he had discovered. He agreed. The witness was asked about a box he brought with him. It happened to be the gun that was involved with the case. It was marked as evidence.
The attorney concluded his questioning by asking the officer if he had met the alleged victim at the scene, and he responded that he had. When asked about this interaction, the attorney questioned whether the officer had identified the firearm with the alleged victim, and he again responded that he had. The officer elaborated that the alleged victim had told him that the gun retrieved from the unit looked like the gun involved in the altercation. The officer also stated that, while the alleged victim was able to identify the gun, the officer and his team were unable to locate the magazine of the firearm, shell casing (brass case of the bullet) and the live round (bullet fragments).
The fourth witness identified himself as Detective Jerry Watson, Peace Officer with the West Sacramento Police Department. He was assigned to the case after the alleged shooting had occurred. He obtained an authorization for a search warrant on the vehicle that was attached to Mr. Onteverio’s mobile home and the mobile home itself. From the search warrant, he did not locate the gun in the vehicle but found the gun lodged between the mattress and bed frame in the mobile home.
The fifth witness identified himself as Officer Samuel Gee, Police Officer with the West Sacramento Police Department. He was on his graveyard shift (8 p.m. to 6 a.m.) when he received a notification about an alleged shooting at Casa Mobile Park. He stated that a protected sweep was done before other officers entered the perimeter that they would search. He then emphasized that no live round, shell casing or magazine was found. However, according to the officer, Mr. Onteverio’s neighbor had seen the defendant with a firearm in his possession and once the firearm was fired, the neighbor had called the police.
The jury trial will resume testimonies on October 31 at 9 a.m., when the court hopes to come to closing statements and the jury going into deliberation.