By Roxanna Jarvis
WOODLAND – A Yolo County deputy public defender’s late-night musings about a case became outspoken, multiple objections at a trial here, with defense counsel charging that she was unsure if she has ever “participated in a more unfair trial” in her career.
In a resumed jury trial, Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Emily Fisher vehemently complained about several issues involving the trial of her client, Carlos Daniel Rodriguez, including the fairness of the trial and the relevance of evidence presented to the jury.
“This is extremely unfair. This court has allowed everything negative about Mr. Rodriguez into this trial in front of the jury, and now the court is hiding something that the prosecutor doesn’t want to put in front of the jury,” argued Fisher.
The prosecutor of the case, Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes, was granted a “402” hearing for his witness, Deputy Paul Flick of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office. In a 402 hearing from Evidence Code § 402, Deputy Flick would first testify without a jury to determine if Hasapes’ request to withhold certain information in Flick’s testimony is valid. If so, the information requested will be withheld from the jury.
The information in question is the legality of a search which occurred in a completely different case, in a completely different county, of which Rodriguez is allegedly involved. Rodriguez has yet to be charged in this separate case that happened in Sacramento.
“This is a very one-sided, unfair situation and I’m objecting,” said Fisher.
Judge Paul Richardson overruled Fisher’s objection and continued, with the proceedings held via Zoom and broadcast on YouTube. While the courtroom could have displayed video, they opted to only use the microphone function.
Deputy Flick began the jury-free testimony, sharing details of the other case in Sacramento County which occurred on August 8, 2019. Flick, with a team of other deputies, knocked on the door of a motel room in Rancho Cordova, covering the peephole and claiming to be housekeeping. The individual they were looking for was known to have a history of narcotics possession, so the team checked on her due to her probation status.
When a man cracked open the door and denied service, Flick used his battering ram to breach open the door.
“A Hispanic male looked at me. I’m standing in full gear, my raid vest with Sheriff across the front,” explained Flick. “He looked at me, turned and shut the door, like trying to get away.” Deputy Flick then identified Carlos Rodriguez as one of the occupants in the room.
When asked if she had any questions for cross-examination, PD Fisher refused to participate, insisting, “I don’t have any questions. I didn’t ask for this hearing.”
As questioning continued, Judge Richardson had trouble identifying if DDA Hasapes’ request was valid. “The problem, Mr. Hasapes, is for the court to kind of know what we are dealing with based on the answers we have been given,” said Judge Richardson.
After some deliberation, DDA Hasapes requested a Hobbs-type hearing, referring to a case from 1994, People v. Hobbs), in which the witness and judge alone would discuss the evidence to determine if it can be withheld or not. Judge Richardson agreed to the hearing, making note of PD Fisher’s objections.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever participated in a more unfair trial in my career,” maintained Fisher.
“I’m kind of disturbed by the Court’s attempt to backdoor any evidence so that the prosecutor can present a case of evidence that has nothing to do with this case he’s trying to prosecute, (and the Court) trying to maneuver ways so that the jury doesn’t hear certain information,” she added.
Judge Richardson allowed Hasapes to be present and put the court in recess, beginning the private Hobbs-like hearing.
In the current case at hand, Rodriguez is charged with two counts of use with a deadly weapon, two counts of second-degree robbery, and one count of possession of a firearm.
On August 6, 2019, in Woodland (two days before the Sacramento incident), it is alleged that Rodriguez and a driver met with one of the alleged victims, JH, and locked him in his vehicle. In the vehicle, Rodriguez told the driver to shoot JH.
Rodriguez took items from JH’s car and threatened the second victim, DG, with a knife. Rodriguez demanded DG’s cell phone and took it, looking through the call history. He also threatened JH with a knife and demanded money. While detailed events of the case were presented in earlier hearings, there were only vague descriptions of the case provided in this hearing.
When the court returned from recess, the jury was brought in and Deputy Flick’s public testimony on the Sacramento case began. Flick was not asked about how he entered the motel room, but only on what he found at the scene.
At the scene, he said, was a loaded Glock-style handgun, a loaded Glock magazine, 1 kilo of powdered cocaine, 0.5 oz of methamphetamine, around 20 Vicodin pills, and around 190 ecstasy pills. There were also four cell phones at the scene, one being in Rodriguez’s possession when he was obtained. Flick noted that the Glock-style handgun had a red dot sight and a gold barrel.
Hasapes provided a statement from the victim, JH, to argue that the handgun in the Sacramento case could have been the one used in the Woodland case. “I wasn’t really paying attention to the specific inner workings of the gun, I was in fear…so that very well could be the gun,” said JH.
Yet, questioning of Woodland Investigator Aaron Moe indicated otherwise.
When questioned by APD Fisher, Moe confirmed that when questioned about the gun, JH described it as “just all black.” “He also stated that the firearm that was pointed at him did not have a raised, red dot or gold barrel,” added Moe.
Investigator Moe also mentioned that JH never made an identification of the driver and the second subject in the investigation when provided a photo line-up, and that the descriptions of the cell phones recovered at the Sacramento scene did not match the cell phones stolen from JH or DG.
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