By Hannah Skepner
SACRAMENTO – It was over before it got started here Monday in Sacramento County Superior Court for defendant Deron Richards.
Richards was removed by the bailiff from his preliminary hearing on Monday morning after making a both disrespectful and disruptive appearance, yelling “if you want to remove me, then bye, I’m out of here,” and requesting a Marsden motion for a new attorney on his way out.
Following this, he refused to come back for a witness identification, causing extensive alternative actions to be taken.
Richards had previously appeared in court on June 22, 2020, for a preliminary hearing, but there was an issue regarding his competency. Since then, there has been doubt regarding this possible incompetency, but he was declared ready for his hearing.
The defendant has been charged with one count of felony second-degree burglary, Penal Code section 459, and one count of felony vandalism, Penal Code section 594(a).
Before the court could even state that this was a preliminary hearing, Richards began yelling that this was not so, and that he had a right to speak his mind. After being continuously warned that his behavior was wildly inappropriate, he was forcibly removed by the bailiff, and other sheriff’s deputies, on his way out, screaming how this was illegal and how he wished for a new attorney.
The first, and only witness called to the stand following Richards’ removal was Highway Patrol Officer Danny Wood. On November 28, 2019, at approximately 1 a.m., Officer Wood was dispatched to 721 Capitol Mall, California Department of Rehabilitation, to the call of a burglary.
Upon arriving, he said he saw a few bystanders, and a police officer, with someone in the back of the patrol car.
At this point, DA intern Ryan Costello, being supervised by Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Martin, asked the witness to identify the man he saw in the car.
However, after being removed, the defendant refused to come back into the courtroom to be identified by Officer Wood. The bailiff expressed to the judge a concern for both the safety of Richards, and for the sheriff’s deputies, if Richards were to return to the courtroom under any type of force.
Following a 10-minute recess to discuss, off the record, how to proceed, the counsel decided to continue in an unconventional manner. The deputies had taken a video of the defendant at around 9:45 am. One of the deputies that was present in the video, Sgt Dana Varcoy, agreed to testify stating that the man in the video was, in fact, Deron Richards. They then showed Officer Wood this video to serve as proper identification.
At this point, the judge made it clear that, after considerable warning of his disruption and refusal to reappear, Richards had waived his rights to be present for the rest of the hearing, and allowed the cross-examination to begin.
During this time, Officer Wood, prompted by the defense, recounted a statement of a bystander he met the night of the alleged crime. This witness was driving down Capitol Mall when he noticed Richards pushing and pulling on the window of the building.
The bystander turned his car around to park, and approached the scene, all of this time unable to see Richards or the window. After exiting his vehicle, he heard the sound of glass breaking, and when the window came into view, he saw Mr. Richards climbing inside. After yelling at Richards from outside the building, he saw the defendant run out.
Based on the evidence presented, the court found reasonable cause that the defendant could be guilty, and set the matter for trial. The judge reappointed the public defender for the trial, but if the defendant wished other counsel, it could be determined at the next court date, Sept. 3, in Department 9.
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