By Brittany Mason
WOODLAND – After the prosecution had questioned a police officer on an auto theft case, the defense lawyer objected to a portion of the previous testimony on the basis of hearsay.
Warren Dorrell, the defendant, has been accused of two felony charges, one for theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle and the other for the purchase or receipt of a stolen vehicle. Police Officer Ryan Fong testified on his account of the night in question during this preliminary hearing.
On Feb. 7, 2020, Officer Fong received a call about a suspicious male taking items from the back of a silver Ford truck in West Sacramento. The male was described as approximately 40 years old wearing dark jeans.
Fong testified that when he arrived on the scene there was a silver truck close by that matched the description. A man was sitting in the front seat and a woman appeared to be sleeping in the passenger seat.
Fong proceeded to question the man, who identified himself as Dorrell. The officer asked if the truck belonged to the defendant but Dorrell maintained that he was borrowing the car from a friend while he moved items from another woman’s house to a storage unit.
Simultaneously, Fong ran the plates and saw that they had no stolen report; however, Fong had acquired the information that the truck had been reported stolen on January 28 out of the city of Woodland.
Fong testified that he then arrested both passengers of the truck and, during a search of the two, found a plastic bag carrying 2.2 grams of a type of methamphetamine in Dorrell’s jacket pocket.
After the Miranda rights were read, Dorrell gave his statement, maintaining his account that he had borrowed the truck to transport items. Dorrell also divulged that he was not given keys to the truck, but given a screwdriver to start the vehicle. He denied any knowledge of the vehicle being stolen.
Fong then contacted the registered owner of the truck, who denied that she knew the defendant or had given him permission to use the car.
The defense lawyer proceeded to question Officer Fong, asking if he had tried to corroborate Dorrell’s story by either attempting to contact the man he was allegedly borrowing the car from or by checking if the items in the truck bed had been the original owners’ or were items from the claimed transportation operation.
Officer Fong testified that he had not thought to try to contact the man Dorrell was allegedly borrowing the car from. In addition, he did not partake in the inventory search that is required for the CHP form for stolen vehicles, so he could not speak upon the items.
During the defense cross-examination of Officer Fong, the prosecution attorney objected multiple times, citing hearsay, which was sustained by Judge David Reed. The objections were regarding the knowledge Fong had received from the dispatcher which had been received from a third party, constituting triple hearsay.
The defense attorney argued that if her questions were categorized as hearsay, then some of the information that Fong had given during the defense questioning was also qualified as hearsay. Judge Reed agreed that the defense lawyer could reassess his earlier questioning to avoid the previous hearsay.
Officer Fong again testified that he had himself talked to the original owner of the truck; however, he could not recount information about inventory in the back of the truck as he did not notice specifics nor did he do the inventory check on the items involved.
Judge Reed concluded that Dorrell will be held to answer for both charges on March 13 and his $20,000 bail still applies.
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