By Danielle Silva
DAVIS, CA – A man was almost denied bail after being charged with stealing a COVID-19 sample from Sutter Davis Hospital and impersonating a federal employee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On April 15, 2020, 40-year-old Shaun Lamar Moore appeared in Yolo County Superior Court via Zoom for his arraignment. He is charged with two felony counts and one misdemeanor, which are attempted possession of a restricted biological agent, second-degree burglary and petty theft by false pretenses. During this hearing, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office argued that Mr. Moore “poses a great risk to public safety” due to leaving the sample unattended which “poses a risk of death and bodily injury.” As such, they claimed that he should be considered an exception to the California Judicial Council’s Emergency Order Rule 4.
Judge David Rosenberg ruled Mr. Moore to be released on his own recognizance but to be given a GPS monitor and ordered to stay 100 feet away from Sutter Davis Hospital.
According to a quote from the Davis Enterprise, Judge Rosenberg stated, “I suspect this particular defendant has some mental-health issues that have to be sorted out, and I would invite the public defender to determine Mr. Moore’s (mental) competence.”
Emergency Order Rule 4, also known as the Emergency Bail Schedule, was implemented on April 6 in response to the health risk of incarcerated individuals in prison. Prisons are overcrowded, lack proper health regulations and provide no means for social distancing.
Emergency Order Rule 4 applies to all individuals held in pretrial custody and felony and misdemeanor bail should all be set to $0 with some exceptions.
The exceptions include serious or violent felonies and if the detained person made threats to kill or harm, has engaged in violence against, or has gone to the residence or workplace of the protected party.
The Yolo County DA Office’s Motion to Deny Bail quotes Emergency Rule 4(d), stating, “Nothing in the Emergency Bail Schedule restricts the ability of the court to deny bail as authorized by Article I, section 12, or 28(f)(3) of the California Constitution.”
They also quoted section 28 of Article 1, stating, “In setting, reducing or denying bail, the judge or magistrate shall take into consideration the protection of the public, the safety of the victim, the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at the trial or hearing of the case.”
In both the arraignment hearing and the Motion to Deny Bail, Mr. Moore was noted to be suffering from bipolar disorder and not currently taking his medication. He also is reported to “occasional[ly]” use alcohol and smoke methamphetamine every other day, and is currently homeless.
While he has pending criminal charges in Sacramento and previous convictions, Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt, the attorney representing Mr. Moore, stated that the defendant has never violated probation nor has failed to appear to at his court hearings. Attorney Van Zandt also noted that the defendant is not accused of one of the offenses cited as Emergency Bail Schedule Exceptions.
The public defender also stated that the defendant had the sample for less than three hours and there are no signs of tampering with the sample.
Attorney Van Zandt noted he would be working with his office to get Mr. Moore the medication he needed.
On April 11, 2020, Mr. Moore arrived at Sutter Davis Hospital. According to the Motion to Denial Bail, Mr. Moore provided his true and correct name to the hospital employees and stated that he “was there to pick up a sample of the COVID-19 virus.”
This COVID-19 sample had been wrapped in several layers of protective packaging. It had not been confirmed positive for coronavirus.
The staff was aware that a courier for the CDC would be arriving that day to collect a sample for confirmation testing and “were under the impression that the Defendant was the same courier and released the COVID-19 sample to him.” Mr. Moore then left the location on a bicycle which raised suspicion. The actual courier arrived a few minutes later. Staff then contacted the police at about 1:35 pm.
Police officers reviewed surveillance tapes and witness testimony during the search. According to a Davis Police Department Crime Alert, they received a call at around 6:15 pm reporting the sealed package in a shopping cart at the CVS Pharmacy at West Covell Blvd.
They retrieved the sample and noted, “The lab also confirmed that the several layers of protective packaging were secure and the specimen had not been tampered with.”
Sutter Health officials stated that they would be further investigating how Mr. Moore, as a member of the public, was able to access the specimen.
Police later arrested Mr. Moore on Sunday, April 12. The defendant had been biking over the Richards Blvd. overpass when police who were actively searching for him and saw him. He was taken into custody without incident.
Mr. Moore’s next hearing is scheduled for May 27, 2020.
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