Man Wins, but Loses as DA Needs to ‘Strengthen Her Case’

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By Layla Mustafa

SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento County Superior Court preliminary hearing in the case of People v. Purefoy went full circle Wednesday—from a request for a continuance to a refiling.

In the end, defendant Thomas Purefoy couldn’t win for losing.

He had won in his preliminary hearing for felony indecent exposure. As the proceeding began, Deputy District Attorney Sylvia La Rosa introduced new evidence submitted to Tuesday afternoon: a supplemental two page police report on the incident.

La Rosa requested a continuance in order to conduct further investigation on the new information presented in the report. Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Cerri objected to the continuance.

Cerri disagreed that the report required any investigation, noting the prosecution’s delay tactics were not because of an “investigation,” but simply because the DA needed to “strengthen her case.”

The officer La Rosa called to testify was the same officer to write both the original and supplemental report, and was on standby to enter the court via Zoom.

With Cerri’s statements and the standby witness, Judge Julie Yap resolved that there was no good cause established for a continuance, so the hearing began.

The defendant, Purefoy, was charged with indecent exposure, according to a witness statement taken by Citrus Heights Police Department Officer Pond from a Citrus Heights resident, who said they saw the defendant masturbating outside of their home.

However, the submitted evidence by the public defender included pictures and aerial shots of the residential neighborhood to form an argument that the number of trees would have obstructed the resident’s view of the defendant from their window. The submitted evidence was also used to indicate that the defendant was unaware of anyone being near him.

Additionally, under questioning, Officer Pond stated to his knowledge, in accordance with the witness report, that the defendant faced the garage door at the time of the incident.

California Penal Code section 314(1) defines indecent exposure: “Every person who willfully and lewdly: Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby.”

Using the evidence and the officer’s testimony, Cerri argued, if it had occurred, the disputed indecent exposure was not done purposefully in the presence of anyone who could have been offended or annoyed.

After reviewing the testimony and after some deliberation, Judge Yap returned to the courtroom to deliver her verdict. While acknowledging the evidence presented against the defendant was “concerning,” she concluded “it does not appear to the court that the offense charge has been committed.”

Upon this basis, Judge Yap decided to decline issuing a holding order on defendant Purefoy.

DDA La Rosa immediately objected to the defendant’s release, and announced a new decision to immediately refile the case.

Judge Yap turned to Cerri who stated, “At this time I appreciate the court not issuing a holding order given the evidence, and if counsel intends to refile I can’t stop her. I will not waive any time and ask that we set this immediately.”

After some debate over the date, it was decided that they would resume on Aug. 10. La Rosa initially asked for a date of Aug. 28, which was within 30 court days—she claimed this was necessary “in light of the further investigation needed.”

In a final attempt to release her client, Cerri asked if Purefoy could be released on his own recognizance and return on the scheduled date of Aug. 10.

In line with concerns for public safety La Rosa objected, defending that bail should remain at $50,000, citing the defendant’s eight felony convictions spanning from the 1990s to 2017.

The judge refused to release Purefoy—he won the preliminary hearing, but is still being held in custody.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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