By Cailin Garcia
SACRAMENTO — Here in Sacramento County Superior Court Monday, Assistant Public Defender Damien Jovel asked Judge Patrick Marlette to reconsider his decision to deny bail to defendant Kayla Villarreal and requested a bail of $200,000.
Deputy District Attorney Heather Phillips responded by stating that if Villareal must be given an option to pay bail, it be set at $1,000,000.
Neither got what they wanted.
Defendant Villarreal is currently being charged with two felony counts of possession of a firearm with a prior felony conviction and possession of an illegal drug. She is also facing a misdemeanor related to assault and battery.
At her last court appearance, Judge Marlette chose not to institute a bail amount. At this hearing her public defender attempted to change the decision.
“I believe that Villarreal is entitled to have bail set in this matter. Setting at no bail is typically reserved for capital cases or violent felonies where there is a substantial risk that the person involved would be in danger of being harmed if the client were released,” said Jovel.
“Additionally, under the new holding by the California Supreme Court, the court found that In re Humphrey, which the court is well aware of, has become precedent in California. And basically, Humphrey says that most indigent clients should be released on OR [own recognizance], however if the court does find that they are a danger then bail should be set,” Jovel continued.
According to the ACLU, In re Humphrey refers to the decision made by the First District Court of Appeal in January 2018 that the money bail system in California violated due process and equal protection by imprisoning defendants prior to trial solely because they could not afford bail.
This ruling required Superior Court judges to consider both a defendant’s ability to pay and non-monetary alternatives to money bail and prohibited detention that was based solely on a defendant’s inability to pay.
Jovel acknowledged that Villarreal has several strike offenses on her record that may seem concerning, but still felt she would not present any danger if she were released on bail. He calculated a bail amount of $150,000 based on an emergency order that calculated bail based on what it would at the time of the offense, rather than $500,000 per strike.
“I knew the District Attorney was going to ask for a million dollar bail prior to this court remanding her, so to relieve the court’s (concerns), we would even bump it up another $50,000, which is the maximum that my client could scrape together,” said Jovel, bringing his bail request amount to $200,000.
“The Humphrey court was very clear on having the court look at a client’s ability to pay. So it’s not just the rich getting out, it’s so all people have an ability to seek pre-retention release,” Jovel added.
Jovel also noted that he spoke to Villarreal’s parole agent, who told him that she was very close to being off parole and always made an effort to check in with her agent. Jovel also spoke to Villareal’s cousin, who has no criminal record, and she stated she has a home that Villarreal could stay in during the proceedings, under the watch on an ankle monitor.
“If your Honor is going to set bail, I would ask that it would be set at $1,000,000,” said DA Phillips. “Despite what Mr. Jovel has said, I believe that Ms. Villarreal is a substantial danger to the community.
“This case started simply because she and the driver of the car drove by two people they don’t know whatsoever, multiple times. Ms. Villarreal ends up getting out of her car because she said the girl looked at her weird. She ends up initiating a fight with the female in the car, which started all of this in the first place.
She yells at one point to the driver of her car to grab a gun that they presumably had in their car which she should not have or even be around,” said Phillips.
“Then the male, who was with the person that the defendant was attacking for no apparent reason, got out of the car and ends up struggling over the gun. And that’s when the defendant gets into the car and ends up backing over her friend, intending to hit the individual who was struggling over the gun with her friend. She does this more than once,” Phillips continued.
“Back in 2014, the case she’s on parole for, involved her finding her ex-boyfriend, or child’s father, who was driving. She drives up to him and strikes his vehicle multiple times. So this isn’t even the first time the defendant has used her vehicle as a weapon,” Phillips stated.
Judge Marlette weighed in after both of the attorneys finished their arguments.
“The language of Article 1 Section 28F3 indicates that the court may maintain, if there’s clear and convincing evidence, that no less restrictive condition would be sufficient. And I don’t know what beyond being on bail and pending 11378 and having two strikes would be a less restrictive and more effective constraint on her behavior than keeping her in custody,” said the Judge.
“I set her at no bail and I’ll leave her at no bail,” Judge Marlette concluded.
Kayla Villarreal will return to court this Thursday for a preliminary hearing.
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