By Carlin Ross
SACRAMENTO – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steven M. Gervercer leaped into his Thursday morning docket here, presiding over a probable cause hearing—he had to decide if there was probable cause to hold defendant Anthony Vannata on multiple felony counts.
Deputy District Attorney Teal Ericson called Officer Michael Novak, who recounted how he arrived at the scene of a possible domestic violence case last July 2 and spoke with the alleged victim about the incident before his arrival.
According to Novak and the victim, the incident began a few minutes before she phoned the police. The defendant woke up from an intoxicated nap while the victim was on the phone with her daughter.
As Ericson reaffirmed, the victim “indicated alcohol was a factor” for the defendant, who, after waking up agitated, “yelled something about wanting to kill her daughter’s husband.” The victim said she hung up on her daughter to call the police, said Novak.
This action enraged the defendant more, causing him to throw a glass bottle at the victim, but she remained on the phone with the police for the remainder of the incident.
The bottle apparently shattered on a wall above her and left “approximately a 1-inch laceration on her pinky finger,” said Novak. The victim said she was afraid the defendant was going to kill her.
After pushing, kicking, and hitting the victim, the defendant pulled out a pocket knife and started swinging at her from three feet away. Although no contact with the knife was made, the victim was left with bruising on her arms and one leg.
Assistant Public Defender Brooks Parfit then cross-examined Officer Novak, first by correcting his statement about the pocket knife incident. Parfit wanted to clarify that his client was merely “waving the knife, but not actively trying to stab her.” He also added that the victim was only upset, and not fearing for her life.
DDA Ericson responded, noting that “it wasn’t that [the victim] wasn’t in fear, but that the officer didn’t ask her about that” because she was “obviously afraid.”
Judge Gervercer was looking for probable cause for three different felonies: corporal injury on spouse or cohabitant, assault with a deadly weapon or instrument, and threats to commit crime resulting in death or great bodily injury.
After testimony, the judge found probable cause to Counts 1 and 3, but did not find probable cause for violation of Penal Code section 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon.
This is because, as Parfit explained earlier, the People “must be able to prove Vannata did something with the knife that was likely to cause force to the victim that results in great bodily injury or death. “The court said it was clear that the victim was injured and threatened, just not by a deadly weapon.”
Judge Gervercer noted that “not every brandishing is a 245,” assault with a deadly weapon.
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