By Evan Chu and Julie Maruskin
Woodland – On Wednesday, Oct. 2, David Urias pleaded not guilty in a retrial at Department 10 of Yolo County Superior Court. The theft of a car and controlled substance possession charged back in 2013 were reopened in response to an appeal claiming that the defendant was unfairly represented to the jury in the previous trial. The judge presiding over the reopened case was Judge Janene Beronio.
The first witness was an officer who testified to identifying Mr. Urias as the man in possession of a stolen car. In 2013, a police officer had noticed the car looked unusual and decided to run the car’s license plates. The officer found that the plates had been stolen because they matched the name of a person that the officer knew had been detained at the time. When pulling over Mr. Urias, he noted that the ignition had been “punched” or damaged with a screwdriver, a common way to steal a car. He also noticed that Mr. Urias was wearing a glove on the hand that was visible.
Deputy DA Alex O. Kian questioned the first witness about the other person in the car, a woman, and whether she gave a statement to the officer. The officer responded that he had not received a statement from the woman. Following this, the prosecutor and defense attorney approached the stand and discussed with Judge Beronio privately for seven minutes.
The next expert witness, Kimberly Sand, was called to the stand. Her title was given as a Senior Criminologist who worked at the Department of Justice’s contracted lab. She stated she was qualified to report that the sample that was given to her was methamphetamine. She was asked if she was qualified to sample DNA evidence, and she responded that she did not perform those duties.
The third witness, Officer Joshua Shearer, had found the defendant in another person’s residence before he arrested him. Before the arrest, the officer had asked for identification from the defendant, and Mr. Urias allegedly gave the name, “David Ruiz.” Shearer could not find that name within the system and testified that he noticed Mr. Urias had his last name tattooed on his chest.
The officer also reported that the defendant showed symptoms of using methamphetamine when questioned at the residence. Officer Shearer conducted three tests to check if Mr. Urias was under the influence. The three tests he explained as an eye movement test, checking his pulse, and checking his multitasking abilities. The defending attorney, Mr. Bradford, responded that the officer was not qualified in his training to be a drug recognition expert.
Through cross-examination, the officer had determined the substance was methamphetamine and not other central nerve stimulants only because nearly 100 percent of drug cases he had interacted with before this particular case involved methamphetamine and not other similar drugs.
The trial is set to resume on Oct. 3, 2019, at 9am.