By Ariana Camarena
Woodland – On October 31, 2019, a preliminary hearing was held to determine if a man facing four counts of assault should be brought to trial. Defendant Steven Butler is being charged with three felonies and one misdemeanor.
Mr. Butler is facing charges with counts one and two being assault with a deadly weapon, count three being a hit and run with injury, and count four being simple battery.
On Oct. 5, 2018, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Steven Butler allegedly attempted to use an occupied gas pump that led to a physical altercation with the complainant. The complainant was the passenger of the vehicle that was occupying the gas pump when Mr. Butler decided to reverse his car into the same spot. The People were represented by Deputy District Attorney Matthew De Moura.
The first witness to testify was the passenger of the parked vehicle and the alleged victim. The alleged victim testified that she and her co-worker had just finished their seven-hour shift at Denny’s when they decided to stop for gas at Pilot Travel Center. The first witness stated that the driver of the car proceeded to go inside the store to pay for the gas while she waited inside the vehicle. The witness testified that a white car proceeded to reverse into her spot when she decided to step out of the vehicle.
The person in the vehicle was the defendant. The witness testified that she felt concerned since the white car was getting close to the parked vehicle. The defendant allegedly stepped out of his white vehicle and immediately proceeded to put his card in the gas pump when the witness asked him, “What are you doing?” The defendant allegedly appeared agitated and responded with, “I have been waiting a long time.”
After this confrontation, the driver of the vehicle returned from inside the store and reached for the gas pump. The witness testified that the defendant touched the nozzle first but didn’t necessarily grab it. She testified that the driver of the first vehicle pushed the nozzle back down into the fuel filler. The witness testified that the defendant allegedly started getting in the driver’s face and said he had been waiting “a long time.” The driver proceeded to pump gas while the defendant and witness began yelling at each other.
The arguing soon led to a physical altercation when the witness knocked off the defendant’s glasses from his face. The defendant allegedly knocked her phone out of the witness’s hand when she decided to punch him in the face. The defendant then proceeded to punch her in the mouth. The witness testified that she decided to get physical to get his attention so he would stop. The defendant then decided to walk away after punching the witness and the alleged victim in the mouth.
The witness testified to going back to the parked vehicle, grabbing a pocket knife then breaking the defendant’s rear window. She then ran back to the parked vehicle when the driver asked, “Why did you do that?” and proceeded to drive off.
The driver and the witness were driving north on Interstate 5 when she noticed the defendant following them from the gas station. The witness testified that the defendant had been tailgating them when they first crashed while exiting the freeway.
The witness testified that she and the driver seemed nervous and she had been crying since her hand had been bleeding from the earlier incident. The second crash occurred while the driver was attempting to get back onto the highway. Both drivers failed to stop at the stoplight and proceeded to drive onto the highway.
The final crash occurred near a rest stop and had the strongest impact on the witness and driver of the vehicle. The driver and witness flipped in their vehicle. The witness had not been wearing her seat belt. The witness testified to remembering getting pushed forward, waking up in the grass and having to go to the hospital. She suffered from a broken hip, fractured spleen, back, broken ribs along with other injuries.
During cross-examination, the defense asked the witness if she had been using words of slander when first exiting her vehicle at the gas station. The witness testified that she did not. The defense then asked again if the witness recalls saying “What the f*** are you doing?” She then testified that she did in fact say that to the defendant.
The defense asked if she recalled telling the defendant to “leave the pump the f*** alone” She said she did not, in fact, say that to the defendant. The defense asked her reasoning for knocking off the defendant’s glasses. She testified that she did so after the defendant allegedly got in the driver’s face. The defense asked if Butler had asked the two alleged victims if they could work it out, but the witness and alleged victim testified that he did not ask.
The defense asked the witness’ reasoning behind breaking the defendant’s rear window. She testified that she did so out of anger. The defense asked if the witness was aware that two little girls were sitting inside the defendant’s vehicle when she had shattered his rear window. The witness testified that she did not know two little girls were sitting inside, nor did she realize glass was shattered onto the little girls.
Four more witnesses are to testify on behalf of the People. Counsel is to reconvene off the record.