By Kelly Moran
SACRAMENTO – Earlier this summer, a shirtless man allegedly flashed his genitals in public and threw a rock at onlookers, shattering a car window, all allegedly because he was denied one cigarette.
Because of Matthew Fischer’s questionable mental state, criminal proceedings in his case have been suspended while his competency to stand trial is evaluated.
Tuesday, Assistant Public Defender Damian Jovel joined his client in Sacramento County Superior Court to argue there is not enough evidence to hold Fischer for trial.
However, Judge Allen Sumner determined at the end of the preliminary hearing that there was sufficient evidence to take the defendant to trial to face misdemeanor charges of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, battery against a peace officer, and one felony charge of vandalism.
According to his public record provided by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Fischer has several priors under his belt, including two misdemeanors of attempted vandalism and indecent exposure, as well as three felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, assault with intent to produce great bodily injury, and vandalism.
On July 12 at around 9:30 in the morning, officers from the Sacramento Sheriff’s office responded to a 911 call from a gas station in Rancho Cordova, where Fischer had started an altercation after being refused a cigarette from a shopper.
The initial complainant who notified police of the situation was approached by Fischer asking for a cigarette. When he said no, Fischer “became verbally aggressive, and in conjunction with that, Fischer lowered his pants, exposing his genitals to [the complainant],” shared Sheriff Deputy Shelby Rowland via Zoom livestream.
Rowland, along with Deputy Anthony Battaglia, were brought onto the case as witnesses by Deputy District Attorney Nick Karp, since they both were part of the team sent to the scene.
Following this incident, Rowland summarized the complainant’s statement that he turned away from Fischer in order to call 911, but, while he attempted to call using the store’s phone, “Fischer began to get irate, picked up a rock, and threw it in the direction of [the complainant] and the female, who at the time was positioned in front of his vehicle.”
The female mentioned by Rowland was identified as the cashier, and the second victim in the attack—she was also injured by the thrown rock.
In defense of Fischer, Jovel had Rowland clarify that actually the cashier had been struck in the face by the complainant as he ducked from the rock, rather than the actual rock itself.
The misdemeanor charges that Fischer faces are due to his conduct during his arrest. Rowland, who was the one bringing him to the station, said the defendant was kneeing and kicking the back of Rowland’s seat during the ride.
“He proceeded to then attempt to kick my back patrol vehicle windows,” said Rowland, after revealing that she had already asked him several times to stop his behavior, to which he did not respond.
While Jovel did not address his client’s behavior while in transport, he objected to the “lack of foundation for opinion” of the complainant’s $500-plus price estimate of the damage done to his car window.
Judge Sumner overruled his objection, asking Jovel, “Can’t the owner of property give an estimate as to the value of the property of replacement, doesn’t that go to the weight of the opinion?”
After hearing Karp and the deputy sheriffs speak, and Jovel’s cross-examinations of both deputies, Sumner declared that there is sufficient evidence in Fischer’s case to continue.
Fischer, who is currently being held in Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, will return to court on Sept. 21 to have all three matters heard on the charges he faces.
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