By Susana Jurado
ALAMEDA – A defendant—charged with 15 felony counts—Friday pleaded in Alameda County Superior Court for temporary release in order to attend the funeral of his recently deceased aunt.
Judge Delia Trevino offered her deepest condolences. And then she rejected the request, based on the severity of the charges and the details of the case, noting she wasn’t “evil.”
Jonathon Stevenson is faced with 15 felonies, including possession and selling of cocaine and marijuana, assault using a loaded firearm with two prior strikes, first degree burglary, and intentionally threatening the safety of several victims
According to the district attorney’s office, on August 3 Stevenson got into an argument with a neighbor, produced a handgun, and threatened to shoot her. Other neighbors in the area heard them arguing until the defendant ended up fleeing the scene.
Authorities, who were called to the scene, found his car parked in the middle of the road. Stevenson caught sight of police vehicles and originally bailed on his car, but as the cops moved to a new location, he returned to his vehicle and fled.
The police subsequently pulled him over, found $15,000 in his pocket, and discovered a loaded semi-automatic handgun under the driver’s seat of his car.
Stevenson had an extensive criminal history with several felony priors and prison commitments for charges including narcotic sales in 2007 and a cannabis home invasion back in 2009.
Due to his history and the level of crimes he was charged with, the defendant has currently been identified as a suspect in two other active investigations.
One of the incidents occurred on June 24, where the defendant allegedly broke through the kitchen window of the apartment of his ex-girlfriend and beat her over the head with a handgun. She suffers an orbital fracture.
As another person in the apartment tried to stop him, he jumped up, pointed the gun at everybody in the residence, and threatened to shoot them all.
The other incident happened on June 9, where a cannabis home invasion occurred in San Lorenzo, California. The defendant’s white BMW was one of the suspect vehicles to be identified at the scene of the crime and eventually got caught by video surveillance footage.
Witnesses say they saw Stevenson receiving bags of merchandise from masked men who invaded the house and beat the victims over the head with a handgun. Stevenson then fled the scene and, when apprehended, his vehicle reeked of marijuana—but apparently he had dumped the product and dumped the gun.
Judge Trevino began the hearing by directing her attention to Assistant Public Defender Sarah E. Einhorn, standing in on behalf of Stevenson.
The public defender reflected to the court an outline of a request made about Stevenson’s custody status for temporary release, explaining, “Yes, your honor. I learned from Mr. Stevenson and then from his partner, that his paternal aunt Ivonne has passed away. The request was that he be released just briefly, to be able to attend the funeral and then he would return to custody.”
Judge Trevino highlighted to the defense the guidelines that have been put in place due to COVID-19, specifically in funeral homes, noting, “Ms. Einhorn, I understand these days that funeral homes or funerals in general are limiting the number of people in attendance,” stated Judge Trevino, “I believe the number is 20, is that your understanding as well?”
The public defender stammered to the court that she did not know and did not ask if the funeral had a limitation of people.
Judge Trevino then turned to Deputy DA Andrew Ross, questioning his take on the request of release.
Ross expressed his deepest sympathy to the defendant’s family for the loss; however, he was adamant at objecting to the request for temporary release, especially since this was considered a prison case. He reiterated to the court the seriousness of the matter, as he stated, “I’ll expect he’ll go to prison in this case if he’s convicted, and this is a case that involves great violence.”
While detailing the incident of the crime and what led to the defendant’s arrest, the district attorney pointed out to the court the meaning behind the contents of what was found in his vehicle, as he stated, “They pull him over and he’s not only got $15,000 in his pocket he’s also got a loaded semi-automatic handgun under the driver’s seat of his car. It’s not only got a loaded magazine, but one live round in the chamber. The only reason you have a live round in the chamber is for offensive use.”
The deputy district attorney argued further on the matter, describing the number of cases the defendant is charged with and the severity of each case. He focused on Stevenson’s extensive criminal record and the injuries brought on by recent charges.
“The point I’m trying to make is that this man is too dangerous to be released from custody. He is a loose cannon,” said Ross. “He used a gun as his means of enforcement and threats and also randomly and actively is still committing home invasion burglaries. So, for all the reasons I outlined, I would object.”
This prompted Judge Trevino to ask the prosecutor to reveal to the court Stevenson’s failure to appear history.
Mr. Ross honestly admitted that, for purposes of that specific discussion, he did not review Stevenson’s failure to appear, but tried to emphasize to the court that his concern mainly relied on the facts of Stevenson’s ongoing criminal enterprise.
“The defendant has been a revolving door in custody every year since 2002 with multiple prison commitments and upon his release from prison, multiple parole violations that have routinely returned him back to custody…” said the district attorney.
But Judge Trevino interrupted him mid-sentence and strongly told him, “Mr. Ross, no need to repeat it all. I’m looking for a failure to appear history. Is that something you can access?”
The district attorney assured the court he could, and reported that for almost every single case against Stevenson, he appeared in custody the entire time. However, the times that Stevenson was not in custody, a warrant was sent out for his arrest dating back to 2012.
Judge Trevino ruled to deny the request for Stevenson to receive temporary release and stated, “My condolences to you and your family for your loss. It’s a terrible situation when you lose someone you love, but I’m not evil. Due to threats to the community if you are out of custody and the concern that you might not come back to court, I’m not able to release you to attend this funeral.”
Judge Trevino set the next court date on September 21, 2020, at 8:30 in the morning in Alameda Superior Court.
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