By Danielle Silva
A man rented an $8,000 stump grinder and utility trailer for 24 hours and failed to return the items – or to respond to inquiry from an officer almost two weeks after the items had allegedly been stolen from him, according to testimony in the preliminary hearing.
Tucker Neithercutt is charged with felony grand theft after renting the stump grinder and utility trailer. He had rented the items on April 30, 2019, but failed to return them after the 24-hour rental period. The owner and an officer attempted to reach him on multiple occasions and failed, leading to the charges.
According to testimony from Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Del Castillo, the owner of the stump-grinder and trailer did not receive them after the 24-hour rental period. The owner contacted the sheriff’s office on May 6, 2019, stating he did not want to press charges but wanted the officer to contact the defendant so he could get his equipment back.
The defendant had left all the appropriate information for renting the equipment, including his driver’s license, his phone number and his address. Additionally, Mr. Neithercutt paid $264 for the one-day rental. Then the defendant failed to respond to the owner’s calls. The officer also attempted to contact the defendant by phone and concluded the defendant was clearing out the call – as the phone call came in, the defendant sent them straight to voicemail.
In the voicemail, Deputy Del Castillo directed the defendant to return the property. The officer received no attempts to call him back.
Deputy Del Castillo found the defendant was in the Yolo County system and found the contact information for his mother. When she answered, the mother shared that she hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks, but she would tell her son to respond to the calls. The deputy then stated if the defendant did not respond, he may be facing charges.
The officer then went to the address provided for the rental, seeing the GMC pick-up truck and confirming with a neighbor that the defendant had been there. Deputy Del Castillo did not see the stump grinder and utility trailer at the location.
Following this incident, he continued to call the defendant and eventually sent a text message. The defendant responded to the text message and claimed he had been going to call him but never followed up. In their text message exchange, he claimed the stump grinder and trailer had been taken from him.
The defendant’s mother also testified, as a witness for the defense. She stated that the defendant had a business where he transported things for landscaping or hauling. Her son started this business since his truck had a towing hitch. One of the jobs she noted he did was tow a boat for a client.
She also testified that the defendant was staying with his grandparents for awhile, but was not sure if it was at the same time as the incident. The mother also testified that the defendant likely couldn’t reach out to the officer due to anxiety. While she stressed the importance of calling the officer, she acknowledged that the defendant was seeing a psychiatrist for his anxiety.
The defense, represented by Supervisor Team One Monica Brushia of the Yolo County Public Defender’s office, submitted a Penal Code section 17(b) motion to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor, as the defendant had the items stolen from him and his business.
The prosecution, represented by Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes, argued against this motion, stating that the owner had still not received the stolen equipment back. The owner relied on these items for his business and the defendant, by not communicating with the officer, played a role in preventing the owner from running his business – in addition to loss of the value of the property.
The court denied the 17(b) motion at this time, scheduling the next hearing to be on January 23.