By Danielle Silva
A man states he identified an intruder in an alleyway by voice after he chased the intruder to the front door of the apartment complex, later stating he identified an individual apprehended moments before by voice and height.
Dustin Murray is charged with first-degree robbery and receipt of stolen property. On May 30, 2019, a couple was sleeping together in their third-floor studio apartment on Van Ness. Around 3 a.m., the boyfriend allegedly heard a noise, went back to sleep, and woke up again to see a figure at the foot of their bed. He ran after the figure to the lobby’s front door before running back upstairs. The girlfriend had called 911 and, as they were speaking to dispatch, the boyfriend claimed he heard a noise outside in the alleyway which he believed was the intruder. The officers arrested an individual and provided a “cold show” to each witness separately.
According to Deputy District Attorney Ernst Halprin’s opening argument, he described the studio apartment had a fire escape outside the kitchen windows. Attorney Halprin stated that the couple had closed the windows before going to sleep in their bedroom – a room that had formerly been a closet and had been refitted with a queen bed.
As the couple was sleeping, the boyfriend allegedly heard a noise and woke his girlfriend who was sleeping beside him, asking if she heard something. She allegedly said she didn’t and they went back to sleep. Sometime later, the boyfriend woke up again and saw a man standing at the doorway of their bedroom. At the time, the room was supposedly pitch black. Once he reached over and felt his girlfriend beside him, the boyfriend jumped out of the bed and ran after the intruder through the front door of the apartment out into the hallway.
The boyfriend chased the intruder through the apartment complex to the front door on the first-floor lobby, claiming the intruder was wearing all gray clothing. The boyfriend then went back upstairs where his girlfriend had called 911. During the phone call, the boyfriend heard a noise from the alley and told dispatch that the intruder was in that alley. They also found their kitchen window was open.
Two officers parked at the corner of Van Ness and one saw Mr. Murray allegedly putting something under a car. The items were the girlfriend’s laptop and a charging tower.
The defense’s opening statement was given by Deputy Public Defender Bonnie Chan. She stated that the officers considered the investigation they did as “good enough” but “good enough” was not beyond a reasonable doubt.
She claimed that the man will testify that the apartment was pitch black but the hallways outside of the apartment to the lobby were well lit. Additionally, the man testified to seeing a white male who was a little taller than himself wearing all gray and a backpack. Attorney Chan noted that the girlfriend did not get out of bed and never saw the front or face of the intruder. Additionally, they had no idea how the intruder got in.
Attorney Chan also points out that the witnesses’ identification of the defendant was a cold show in the alleyway, a term that will be described later in the trial. She stated Mr. Murray was wearing a white shirt and gray sweatpants. Additionally, Mr. Murray appeared to come from the back rather than the front of the alleyway.
The defense also notes that when officers show Mr. Murray to the girlfriend, she is not sure who the defendant is. Officers then show the defendant to the girlfriend again, this time wearing his black hoodie with a fur hood. The girlfriend had noted that the intruder had worn a black hoodie but had not specified fur lining.
Attorney Chan also noted how a handprint was located on the window, but the jury will never hear the results of the fingerprints.
The first witness from the prosecution was the boyfriend. He stated he was asleep with his girlfriend when he heard a clicking noise and shuffle. He asked, “Did you hear that?” and the girlfriend turned and said she didn’t.
After going back to sleep, he heard a second noise.
“She’s in the bed. Who’s that? There’s someone in the house,” the witness recounted thinking at the time.
As the witness jumped out of bed in his underwear, the intruder unlocked the front door and ran out. During the chase, the intruder allegedly and repeatedly yelled, “It’s ok, bro, it’s ok, bro.” The witness claimed to have caught the side view of the intruder at the turns of the staircase.
The boyfriend claimed he made contact once with the intruder, touching his clothes, but the other ran out the front door about eight to ten feet in front of him. The prosecution provided photographs of the department for further evidence.
As they got to the front door, the boyfriend realized there may have been another person in the house so he ran back upstairs to his girlfriend. He testified that he saw his girlfriend in the hallway had already dialed 911.
During the call, they allegedly turned the lights on in their apartment and looked to see if anything was missing. The girlfriend, who talked first on the call, noticed that the window was open and told dispatch the incident began 5 minutes prior.
The witness spoke next, stating he identified the intruder as a 30- to 40-year-old white male who was potentially 5’10” tall and wore gray clothing and a backpack. He also stated the intruder kept calling him “bro” and, as they came to the lobby, he did not see which way the intruder went.
The girlfriend stayed on the line and shared that her laptop and cellphone were missing. During the call, a voice could be heard. The witness, during the call, claimed the voice to be the intruder’s. The voice allegedly came from the alleyway.
The operator asked if that was the person and then informed them that the police were on their way. The witness put on shorts and went down to talk to the police who asked if he was involved and slowed him down. After his girlfriend came down, they determined he was on the call.
After a few moments, the police claimed they apprehended the person in the alley and stated they were going to ask them some questions.
They did a cold show, where a witness is told the individual they are shown may or may not be the suspect and are read additional instructions to consider. Both the boyfriend and girlfriend signed a cold show form to show they had been read the instructions.
The boyfriend, who saw the apprehended individual first, claimed that he was 100 percent sure this was him due to his height and voice. The individual apprehended appeared to be yelling and was told by an officer to stop yelling.
The trial is set to resume this week.