By Evan Chu
Woodland – The jury reached a verdict regarding the case of People v. Vasquez, as all 12 members of the jury found the defendant, Isabella Marie Vasquez, guilty of all 11 charges.
Ms. Vasquez was charged with a total of 11 charges, including four petty theft charges, three charges of possession of controlled substances (two of which were of paraphernalia), an appropriation of lost property charge, a possession of burglary tools charge, a trespassing charge, and a burglary charge.
The jury found the defendant guilty of all of the charges above, and also agreed that the burglary charge should be a first-degree burglary as the residence she allegedly burglarized was occupied by the residents at the time of the crime.
However, after the jury was excused from the courtroom, the court and counsels continued to discuss a possible enhancement on the case. It is an enhancement regarding the defendant’s prior felony convictions in another county. According to the prosecution, the defendant should be prohibited from getting probation for this case due to that prior conviction, which was a violation in 2014.
The prosecution pointed out the stamp on the document provided to the court, stating that the time stamp was Aug. 8, 2019, which also showed the defendant’s name and the felony conviction.
The defense then brought up the fact that the documents presented were accessed and printed from the district attorney’s office instead of the original documents from Shasta County, the county in which the defendant allegedly had a felony conviction. The prosecution did state that supplemental material can be sent to the court since the name on that conviction document matches the defendant’s name and there were no challenges from the defense in the beginning to identify the name on the document.
However, the court was also curious about the exact method for this defendant to be linked to that conviction back in 2014. Due to the verdict from the jurors coming out some time around 4 p.m., the court decided to resume the argument of the enhancement at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Previous: Homeless Woman Faces 11 Counts
By Arianna Medina
The defense argued a homeless woman charged with theft of lost property and trespassing came from her believing that the house was empty, while the prosecution pointed out the owner of the house was moving.
The defendant, a homeless woman named Isabella Vasquez, was charged with a total of 11 different counts. These included misdemeanor counts of trespassing, theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine, appropriation of lost property, and possession of burglary tools. In closing arguments, the contested issue was the felony charge of first-degree burglary.
The prosecution began by outlining their argument, claiming that because there are multiple charges which occurred over different dates, they would go through every count, addressing each element of the charge to prove the defendant did it. On the first count of trespassing, the prosecution argued that on Apr. 20, 2019, the defendant did unlawfully enter a Nugget Market after being told previously on Jan. 11, 2019, not to return.
In regard to the second, third, and fourth counts of theft, the prosecution argued that the defendant did unlawfully enter a Dollar Tree on May 25, 2019, and took various items from the store without paying. The prosecution further argued that, for the fifth count of possession of drug paraphernalia, the same day the defendant was apprehended at the Dollar Tree she was found with unlawfully possessed syringes in her bag.
The sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth counts all pertain to an incident that occurred on July 9, 2019 in which the defendant was charged with possession of drugs and paraphernalia, appropriation of lost property, and possession of burglary tools. The prosecution argued that on this day not only was the defendant found with a “usable amount” of meth and syringes in an empty Altoid container, but the defendant acknowledged having this ‘kit’ in her possession.
Furthermore, she was found with a handicap placard, social security card, wire cutters and other various tools on her person. The prosecution argued these items were stolen because a social security card is not something “you just throw away.” They also argue these items had identifying features of the true owner, yet the defendant made no effort to locate or contact them. In regard to the burglary tools, the prosecution argued that the defendant had no reasonable means to possess them.
The tenth count of theft pertains to an incident that occurred at a Walmart on July 11, 2019. The prosecution argued that the defendant took property valued at $41.59 belonging to Walmart and did not pay for the merchandise. The last count is the first-degree felony burglary charge and the prosecution argued that on July 17, 2019, the defendant was found inside the garage of a private home with a backpack containing alleged stolen items.
The prosecution argued that the defendant had “no other reasonable purpose” for entering the home. They argued it was the alleged victim’s primary residence and it does not matter that the house was not fully furnished. The alleged victim was in the process of moving into the house and family photos, a bed, and clothing all point to it being inhabited.
Among the items that were in the defendant’s backpack were tablets, a Nintendo Switch, Bose wireless speaker, and a Go-Pro. The defendant claims she found all these items already in the backpack on top of a trailer stationed outside the home. The prosecution, however, argued that the defendant intended to sell these items for drug money. The prosecution concluded by claiming the defense will try to play on the sympathy of the jurors because the defendant is homeless and needed to do this to survive.
They argued that if the defendant did this out of survival, she would have taken water and other necessities, not just “two pastries and a bunch of electronics.” Furthermore, they argued that it was not just one burglary, these are multiple incidents across multiple dates. They asked the jury to find the defendant guilty of all counts.
The defense began their argument by addressing the tablets that were recovered from the backpack. The defense claims they ran the serial numbers of these devices and they did not come back to an owner. Furthermore, she argued these “stolen items” were found mixed with the defendant’s belongings: food and other items that look like trash and are consistent with someone who picks things out of the trash.
In regard to Count 9 of possession of burglary tools, the defense argued that the issue at hand is not just about “did she have these tools,” it is about her intent. The defense claims the defendant never actually used these tools, instead, she uses them to work on her bike and to protect herself while living on the streets. The defense also addressed the defendant’s intent in regard to the count of burglary, arguing her intent there was to seek refuge in the empty garage.
According to counsel, the defendant honestly believed the house was empty. In fact, the homeowner even testified that the home had been vacant for awhile and that he was stressing out because he thought other people would think no one lives there. Therefore, the defendant had no intent to burglarize, but rather seek refuge. She concluded by stating that because the burden of proof of intent has not been met, the jury should find the defendant not guilty of the burglary charge.
On rebuttal the prosecution addressed how when the defendant was apprehended and questioned about the items in her backpack, she allegedly made statements such as, “I wanted to sell the game system for 20 bucks.” They argued these statements reveal her true intent, and she should, therefore, be held accountable. The prosecution concluded by thanking the members of the jury and, after they received instructions from the court, the jury went into deliberation.