By Hannah Grayson
San Francisco – A man accused of threatening and stalking his ex had his preliminary hearing on Friday morning in Department 20 in front of Judge Teresa M. Caffese. The judge moved forward most counts against him despite inconsistent testimony from the main witness of the alleged incident.
The woman who was allegedly threatened took to the witness stand during the hearing. She then went through the events from August and October of this year in which she allegedly felt threatened by the defendant. She recounted the events of October 1 when the defendant was arrested. At about 4 a.m. that day, she looked outside her window to see the defendant bending over around her rental car. She then testified she asked him what he was doing, to which he did not reply.
Together with another woman she began to follow the defendant around the corner and start to record him on video. She remembered recording him in order to have proof, as the police had apparently told her she did not have enough proof against the defendant in a prior incident. The defendant then, apparently, turned around and walked toward the two women, causing the other woman to pepper spray him.
The woman next called police, who apprehended and handcuffed the defendant. He then began to threaten her when he was in custody, telling her that he was going to kill her.
The prosecution began to go through with the woman’s text messages sent to her by the defendant in August. Various messages read aloud gave the impression that he was threatening to pay someone to kill her. It was revealed that she had blocked the defendant’s phone number and then unblocked it, but she did not remember why.
The prosecution asked the woman how all of these threats made her feel, to be sure she felt her safety threatened. She proceeded to go back in forth with her answer. She either felt afraid for her life or was not affected at all by his words. She also did not feel threatened by the defendant until August of this year, well past when this incident allegedly occurred and after she had apparently blocked the defendant’s phone number.
The next witness brought in was San Francisco Police Department Officer Tyler Carle, who has only been out of the police academy for three months. Officer Carle was the officer who responded to the alleged victim’s call to police and arrested the defendant.
Officer Carle recalled hearing the defendant make threats as he arrested him. Officer Carle also called the alleged victim later that day to make sure she heard and knew of these threats.
The officer then revealed that he had talked to the alleged victim that morning, along with the prosecution. She had apparently told them that she did not recall any threats during the incident of October 1, which is inconsistent with her testimony.
The defense, Deputy Public Defender Semuteh Freeman, argued that the threats from October 1 should be reduced to a misdemeanor due to the alleged victim’s inconsistencies. The prosecution argued in response that she could have still been threatened even if she did not hear the specific language of the threat. In terms of the stalking, the defense argued that the defendant did not maliciously follow her.
Freeman also argued that the threats over text message are not clear and specific threats, to which the judge disagreed. It was also debated whether the woman actually felt threatened by the defendant’s words, since she gave inconsistent statements on how she felt in response.
Amid all the evidence of threats, the woman said that the defendant needs help with a drug and alcohol problem. He apparently only used threatening language against her when under the influence, but not when sober.
Judge Caffese decided to continue to go forward on most charges against the defendant, and the case is set to come back November 1 for an arraignment. She also did not allow release of the defendant from custody, due to his consistent failure to appear to court.