By Özge Terzioğlu
SACRAMENTO – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steve White Monday swiftly decided to reduce bail from $170,000 to $50,000 for a defendant who allegedly pointed a loaded gun at an elderly man’s head and robbed him.
Defendant John Laqui’s attorney, Larenda Delaini, requested that the judge lower his bail to “$40 to $50,000,” claiming his bail should’ve been set at $150,000 instead of $170,000.
Attorney Delaini reasoned that her client is 41 years old, he was working full time before the incident occurred, and she even called his supervisor who said the defendant could return to his job if he is released from custody.
She further stated that defendant Laqui has six kids, two of which live with him and are both under 12 years old, so they need his financial support. He lives in Sacramento County, and his fiancé would make sure he comes to all his court dates.
Even though her client has prior convictions, Attorney Delaini justified that he has not had any run-ins with law enforcement for the past seven years, he was not on probation or parole when the incident occurred, and the warrant issued was for his arrest, not for a failure to appear in court.
Defendant Laqui’s prior convictions include a misdemeanor for unlawfully fighting in a public place, a misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, and a felony possession of a controlled substance. He also has a felony conviction from 2013 for receiving stolen property.
Regardless, the defense reiterated, “We would respectfully request that bail be set at an amount of $40 to $50,000.”
The judge asked if the two felony convictions were probation cases, and the defense clarified that they were for probation violation.
Deputy District Attorney Adrianne McMillan stepped in and clarified that the defendant only had two failures to appear from 2001 and 2004. She also stated that if they were stacking charges from the previous felonies the bail should be set at $200,000, but if they were not, bail should be set at $150,000.
DDA McMillan then gave the facts of the case to oppose the defense’s request for reduced bail.
She said the victim was working in his garage when the defendant knocked on his door. The victim and the defendant have a history—the victim was previously robbed by the defendant.
The victim knew the defendant to be an affiliated gang member. One of the people the defendant committed the previous robbery with is currently spending 14 years in prison.
When the defendant came to the garage, he showed the victim a gun and asked if he wanted to buy it. The victim said no, and this was when the defendant put a clip in the gun and pointed it to the victim’s head, demanding money.
A neighbor came to the garage to return something to the victim when he saw this occur and called police. The defendant took the BB gun belonging to the victim’s son and left the garage.
The victim was afraid of retaliation, which is why he didn’t immediately contact the police after the incident, alleged the DDA. The victim also said he believes the defendant chooses to target old Filipino people in the neighborhood because the defendant thinks they won’t call the police
DDA McMillan also noted that the victim was able to identify the defendant in a line up. She requested that the defendant plead guilty to Count 1, robbery. Also that the court establishes a no contact order and restitution for the damages. McMillan also added that she requested Ring video footage.
“I think it would be inappropriate to lower bail. I think [the defendant] poses a danger to the community, especially since he committed robbery in the past on the same person and [the defendant] is gang affiliated” DDA McMillan concluded.
When the judge asked the DDA for proof of defendant Laqui’s gang affiliation, she said, “I would have to look in the report and do further investigation to see if there is recent validation of his gang affiliation.”
In response to the DDA’s argument against reduced bail, Attorney Delaini said, “I believe the gang activity is in years past. Frankly, I think [the defendant] hasn’t been involved in [gang activity] in quite some time.”
She also remarked, “I’m not sure he was involved in the robbery where his co-defendant was sentenced to 14 years.” She also noted that the victim was robbed two other times by friends and, allegedly, the defendant.
However, she went on to refute the DDA’s claims and said “the vehicle described in the Ring video does not match the defendant’s vehicle.”
Attorney Delaini added, “There’s been bad blood with these two individuals. The victim has a motive to be dishonest. [The victim] described the defendant with big black gauges in his ears, but the defendant does not have that, so it’s obvious.”
“Okay, I’m willing to reduce the bail to $50,000,” Judge White concluded.
Defendant Laqui’s next court date is Nov. 2, at 1:35 p.m. in Sacramento Dept. 61.
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