By Julietta Bisharyan
SACRAMENTO – Three men appeared in Sacramento County Superior Court Friday afternoon via Zoom live stream, charged with attempted murder.
The co-defendants, Lamont Williams, Rashaad Ahmaad Chaney and Michael Johnson, were to be arraigned individually by Superior Court Commissioner Kenneth N. Brody. But that was ultimately rescheduled.
On May 26, the three defendants allegedly attempted murder with the use of a firearm. It was alleged that the offense was committed in furtherance of a criminal street gang’s interests.
The first defendant brought into court was Williams, who prosecutors claim discharged a firearm, causing great bodily injury or death. The judge made mention of his prior serious violent felony conviction, making this a second strike case.
Commissioner Brody asked Williams if he could afford to hire an attorney or if the court should appoint one for him. Williams indicated that, while his family has made contact with an attorney, he has not been able to contact his family. A public defender was appointed.
According to Williams, the floor staff in his prison has prevented him from using the phone, because of COVID-19 induced quarantine orders.
The next defendant called in was Chaney, who also allegedly discharged and used a firearm, which resulted in great bodily injury or death.
Chaney indicated that he could afford to hire an attorney and that his mom is working on it right now.
“And you’re sure about that?” Commissioner Brody asked.
Like Williams, Chaney expressed difficulties in contacting an attorney and his family over the phone in prison. He said he was told that he couldn’t talk to his family so they could get the hold of an attorney, and that his first phone call was already used to speak with his mom.
Finally, Johnson was brought into the courtroom for his arraignment. In addition to his attempted murder charge, he was also charged with the possession of a firearm by a felon.
Johnson indicated that he could not afford to hire an attorney, retaining Assistant Public Defender Carmen Butler.
Butler asked if the court had made a mistake in charging Johnson as a convicted felon, as he has no prior record, let alone any felony records. The court said that the complaint indicated that Johnson had an earlier conviction on March 6 in Los Angeles, but it may be a case of mistaken identity—someone with the same name.
In response to the telephone issues that the defendants faced, Butler noted, in fact, new arrestees must go through a quarantine period, in which they cannot use the phone.
Commissioner Brody conferred with the clerk and ordered that all three defendants would be allowed to make a phone call regarding the retention of an attorney.
An arraignment for the three defendants has been rescheduled for Jun. 3, at 1:35 pm in Department 61.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9