By Tiffany Devlin
SACRAMENTO – A man suspected of selling, obtaining and making AR-15 style weapons actually saw his total bail reduced from nearly $350,000 to “just” $135,000 here in Sacramento County Superior Court Monday.
During the bail motion, Deputy District Attorney Jesse Saucedo charged that he strongly suspects defendant Malik Stewart of selling, obtaining, and making AR-15 style weapons, based on the discovery of firearms in two cases.
The first case involves a shooting incident with at least five different individuals and two victims. During an altercation before the shooting, they identified Stewart as being one of the aggressors, although Stewart was not the shooter—he was charged with possession of an assault weapon.
Assistant Public Defender Larry Yee requested Judge Stephen Acquisto release Stewart on his own recognizance, or to set bail in the payable amount of $20,000 as an alternative.
“Mr. Stewart has lived in Sacramento his entire life. His mother, grandmother, four older brothers, and older cousin all live here in Sacramento. He did have a job previously, unfortunately since COVID-19 he hasn’t been working, but he has been employed as of last year. He has numerous ties to the community, we don’t believe that he is a flight risk based on his ties to the community,” said Yee.
Judge Acquisto addressed the existing Pre-trial Public Safety Assessment report (PSA), noting that Stewart is at a Level 2. The risk score for the PSA is used to provide objective information on the defendant in order to determine whether or not the judge will release the defendant pre-trial.
Judge Acquisto also said that the probation department recommends the defendant’s release if the risk assessment score is at Level 2, stating the general terms of Level 2 to the court.
Deputy District Attorney Jesse Saucedo began delivering facts from Stewart’s cases.
“The original case stems from a shooting that occurred at a residential area with kids being present, where the defendant is identified as being present and involved in the altercation that then commenced the shooting. Shortly after that, law enforcement then issued a warrant in July.
“After the shooting, prior to the warrant being issued, Mr. Stewart, based on the cell phone records that we have and the social media information that we have, fled to Washington. He didn’t return until it looked as though there were no actual warrants, based on a conversation on social media that we have occurring in mid to late June.”
Saucedo argued that a firearm was found in Stewart’s residence in a room where he had his identification. The AR-15 style rifle was found along with ammunition. Once Stewart eventually came back from Washington after the warrant was imposed, there was another firearm found in the common area of the residence that Stewart was staying, the DA said.
“Review of his social media suggests that he is trying to sell guns, get guns, and make guns; specifically, AR-15 type guns,” charged the DA.
Although Stewart had no adult convictions, Saucedo found that in 2013 he was adjudged a ward of the state for burglary, violated juvenile probation twice, and then in 2014 adjudged a ward for robbery. In 2017, while on juvenile probation, Stewart had a “failure to appear” (FTA) no bail warrant stemming from picking up a new case along with failure to complete the conditions required for probation.
“Because of the seriousness, and the fact that he is a known gang member who, in his social media, brags about being a ‘shot caller,’ we believe that for public safety bail should remain as set,” the prosecution said.
After a brief clarification of facts, defense counsel points out that Stewart is not charged with anything involving the shooting at this time, and that he was compliant with the officers at the time of his arrest, adding, “He was not in the presence of any guns that are alleged in this case. I don’t think he was even in the house at the time. He assures me that he will return to court for any future court dates.”
“I do have concerns about public safety given the circumstances,” the judge began, and “bail is set in the second case at $250,000. The first case, that’s the case in which there was a shooting… The second case is where he was found in the common area, or he was in the common area of the home where guns were found.”
Saucedo clarified that Stewart was known to live at a residence where the firearm was found in the common area. Defense counsel Yee interjected, stating that “he (Stewart) was not there at the time.”
While Judge Acquisto decided to leave the bail amount at $85,000 in the first case, he reduced bail from $250,000 to $50,000 in the second case for a total of $135,000. All parties agreed to a continuance to October 19.
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