By Julie Maruskin
A homeless man was stopped by Woodland police while sifting through items from a vehicle parked at a car repair shop.
Michael Mori pleaded no contest to the charges of petty theft, second-degree burglary, and prowling along with restitution fees.
Officer Greg Elliott from the Woodland Police Department was the first and only witness in the preliminary hearing for Mr. Mori. During this hearing, the officer testified to responding to a call on Nov. 5, 2019, to attend to a matter occurring at Precision Auto Care in Woodland.
Officer Elliott testified that when he arrived at the scene Corporal Simeon McKenzie was placing an individual into handcuffs. This individual was identified as Mr. Mori. At the time, Corporal McKenzie had told Officer Elliott that he initially saw something get thrown from a gray Toyota Camry in the parking lot of the Precision Auto Care. It was reported to Officer Elliott that, upon further inspection, McKenzie had seen the driver;s side glass smashed in.
Officer Elliott testified to seeing miscellaneous items within the car such as paper towels, bungee cords, and a backpack. He noticed that the driver’s side of the car had been unlocked, unlike the other side of the car. The officer explained in his testimony that the glass smashed in was the glass within the triangle window behind the driver’s seat.
When speaking to the defendant during the incident, Officer Elliott noticed that he appeared to have blood on the top of his left hand. The officer asked the defendant about the items in the car. Mr. Mori had told him that he was looking for a blanket and that none of the items from the vehicle belonged to him.
The officer also testified to knowing the owner of Precision Auto Care and had spoken to him about his knowledge of the cars in the parking lot. The owner of the shop had claimed that all of the cars had been locked the night prior when he closed up the shop. He told the officer that he had checked the cars the night before as a part of his routine. He also claimed that he had moved the vehicle the evening before.
In cross-examination, the officer was asked what time the owner of the shop had moved the vehicle. He responded that he had no knowledge of the time that the vehicle was moved. He was also asked if during the incident it was still dark out, and the officer claimed that it was – however, he claimed that the area was well lit. When asked about whether the officer knew what they did at the business, the officer responded that it was an auto repair shop and that the vehicle that was broken into was on the property for repair.
The court believed that all of the evidence presented during the hearing led to probable cause that Mr. Mori had committed a crime, and upheld the second-degree burglary charge with the other charges dismissed. After the charge was read by Judge Paul Richardson, he asked the defendant if he is homeless, and the defendant responded that he is indeed so.
The court set the arraignment date for Mr. Mori to be on Dec. 6, 2019, at 10 am.