By Ayanna Gandhi
WOODLAND – A man sitting eating his lunch at a McDonald’s parking lot here said he was confronted by a man—now being held for attempted carjacking—who at first started asking about the victim’s truck, and then struggled to steal the keys to that truck.
The defendant (whose name was not disclosed in the live stream of Yolo County Superior Court last week) was held to answer by Judge David Rosenberg at this preliminary hearing, after allegedly attempting to swipe the victim’s truck keys from his pocket and use the vehicle for his job.
Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek laid his case out to the court, emphasizing that although the vehicle wasn’t stolen, it is assumed that if an individual steals a car’s keys, they will also steal the car.
Officer Shayne Souza of Woodland, who six months ago started his career, took the victim’s statement on the scene. The alleged victim explained how the defendant started out by asking if he could borrow the victim’s truck and when the truck owner said no and requested that the defendant leave, the meeting escalated.
According to the narrative, the defendant went from saying he needed the truck to eventually snatching the defendant’s partially hanging keys from his pocket.
Officer Souza’s police report states that the two men reached simultaneously for the truck keys, which were hanging from keychain out of the victim’s left pocket. However, when the victim’s grip became firm, the defendant let go and backed off. The truck’s owner states that although the defendant stepped back, he did not leave until the victim got in his car and drove to the nearby Ace Hardware lot to call the police.
Woodland Officer Mark Gojkovich found the defendant about one-tenth of a mile from the McDonald’s, where he took his statement and asked the victim to come to identify the defendant. The truck owner identified him correctly.
Souza was asked to identify the defendant in the court, and pointed him out. But because of Covid-19 the defendant had a mask on, so Judge Rosenberg asked if the suspect really was easily recognizable with the mask, and Officer Souza responded saying the defendant’s eyes were the basis of his identification.
Officer Gojkovich said the defendant denied trying to steal any keys, but instead said he only engaged in a verbal altercation and then asked to borrow the truck for one day. The defendant also said he first approached the victim because the truck driver looked like a police officer who was off duty, although the victim is not a police officer.
Defense attorney Lisa Lance ended her cross-examination of officer Souza by asking about the surveillance in the parking lot. Souza stated that he asked this particular McDonald’s the same question, but they only have one camera facing a different direction from the lot.
Souza also stated that the defendant seemed to be agitated when recounting his story, but overall, the defendant did not seem confused nor as if he was dealing with any mental problems. When asked, Officer Souza also stated that the victim seemed upset, but not agitated when being interviewed.
Attorney Lance ended by stating that the defendant never actually reached for the keys, making grounds for attempted carjacking inadmissible. The DDA insisted the defendant clearly had the intent to steal the truck after the victim said no, and his words coupled with the apparent struggle for the victim’s keys are the standard for a carjacking charge.
Judge Rosenberg reasoned that the victim had no motive to fabricate such lies, and set the defendant’s arraignment date for June 23, at 9 a.m.
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