By Tanya Decendario and Lauren Smith
RIVERSIDE – Deputy District Attorney Garrett Behrens argued during a preliminary hearing that nearly everything can be a weapon if the circumstances allow it. Even eating utensils.
After getting in an altercation with the two victims in this case, defendant Julius Hill allegedly stabbed one of them with a 12-inch fork used to turn steak over when grilling, causing some injuries that, according to testimony, “weren’t dangerously deep…[they were] superficial…actively lightly bleeding [and a] large band aid would be sufficient” to cover them.
After learning more details about the weapon allegedly used to stab the victim, Judge Burke Strunsky stated, “The only issue I need to address is whether this fork is a deadly weapon [and] whether it was capable of causing or likely of causing death or great body injury…obviously it’s not an inherently dangerous weapon.”
He questioned DDA Behrens for more evidence supporting the claim that a steak fork can cause great bodily injury, stating, “I think that is a close call even with the evidence, with the way the fork was used in this case.”
DDA Behrens argued that “any object, even the pen in my hand for instance, depending on the way it is used, can transcend to the category of a deadly weapon.”
He further stated that the design of the “common barbecue fork,” or the alleged weapon, is meant “for piercing meat, which is to be barbecued, which is similar to that of human flesh, and turning it over.
“Shivs in prison, even manipulated devices with smaller blades than this have caused extraordinary damage to the vulnerable sections of the human body resulting in death when stab wounds occur,” Behrens concluded.
Gregory Johnson, Hill’s defense attorney, challenged Behren’s notion of “anything can be a deadly weapon” and described this belief as inefficient because of its connection to the circumstances under which it is used.
Johnson argued that the injury Hill created using the steak fork resulted in scratch marks and no puncture wounds, adding, “Anything in this table can be a deadly weapon if it’s used in a certain way… I think you have to look at the purpose of what it’s meant for.”
To further emphasize the absurd length Behren’s argument may reach, Johnson pointed to a paper clip remover located on the table which could potentially be used as a “deadly weapon” if using Behren’s proposition.
Before his ruling, Judge Strunksy stated that the court will “take into consideration…the manner in which the [large fork] was used. Here it was clearly used in an extremely violent way to the point that [the victim] used the word stabbed.”
Strunksy stated that he found “sufficient evidence” that Hill is “likely guilty” of assault with a deadly weapon and threatening to commit a crime resulting in great bodily injury or death, and set an arraignment date ahead of a possible trial.
Tanya Decendario is a third-year student studying Legal Studies at UC Berkeley. She is originally from Sonoma, CA but currently resides in Albany, CA.
Lauren Smith is a fourth year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and Psychology. She is from San Diego, California.
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