Video Footage in Question in Murder Trial

By Hannah Grayson

A murder trial continued Monday morning in Department 26 presided by Judge Braden C. Woods. Most of the day was spent on the accuracy and reliability of security video footage of the area around the time of the murder.

The murder in question occurred in the early morning of February 15, 2017. Police responded to the collision of a gold Porsche into the Rodeway Inn on Eddy Street. The driver was found dead in the car with a gunshot wound to the head.

The defense, Deputy Public Defender Yali Corea-Levy, called the first witness of the day, Jesse Huber, who is an investigator at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. He had been tasked with determining how long the route would take from where the Porsche was parked to the scene of the collision at the same time of day. The vehicle had left the view of security cameras at the intersection of O’Farrell and Fillmore, so what happened in between needed to be determined.

Huber drove the route four different times and it took on average under two minutes to drive the determined route from that intersection to the scene of the collision.

The next witness was then Aubria Jefferson, who is also an investigator at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. She had been tasked with finding percipient witnesses in this case, or those who had been in the area around the time of the crime.

She had tried to contact a witness and issue a subpoena to her. This witness was very hostile towards Ms. Jefferson and yelled at her. She had also interviewed another witness who identified the perpetrator as wearing a black hoodie. The prosecution, Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai, questioned why the investigator had interviewed another witness who was not actually there. She just said she was told to as he was a part of the police report and it was a part of her job.

The last witness called by the defense was video expert Paul Hiromi Endo who assists attorneys with video evidence and worked on this case. He was tasked with synchronizing the body camera footage from the officer who responded to the collision and the security footage from the Rodeway Inn. Much time was spent proving the accuracy of his synchronization.

Hiromi Endo also created a map of security cameras in the block of Eddy Street and Van Ness Avenue where the crash happened to show where the blind spots are according to him.

In the security footage, he identified a man that appeared on multiple cameras from the Burger King and verified that it was the same person on all the cameras.

In other security footage, the Porsche is seen driving. In looking at that footage, he saw two different shadows along with the driver. He said that these could be two passengers but he could not be certain.

In the cross examination, Talai accused Hiromi Endo of not putting in total effort as he did not look at every single minute of every single video as there was a vast amount of video evidence in this case.

After the defense rested, the people recalled Sergeant Phillip Gordon as a witness. In the footage from the Burger King security cameras, he identified a man with a knit cap and a tote bag. He saw this person go onto Eddy Street just before the crash and then run back into the parking garage just after the crash. He also said that he only saw one person leave the immediate scene of the crime in the video.

In the footage of the Porsche driving before the crash, Sergeant Gordon appeared certain that he knew how many people were in the car. He identified the victim as the driver and a black male wearing what appeared to be a black hat in the passenger seat. In question seemed to be whether the skin tone of the defendant matched that of the footage.

In cross examination, Corea-Levy questioned Sergeant Gordon’s certainty of what he saw in the video. He did not understand how he could tell very clearly considering the camera was mostly pointed towards the sidewalk rather than the street.

After Sergeant Gordon’s testimony, the people rested. Closing arguments will commence on Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the same department.

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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