By Emma Phillips
WOODLAND – Yolo County Superior Court Judge David W. Reed Tuesday decided to maintain felony charges against a man who earlier this year threatened at least two staffers at a Davis school—although the judge directed legal counsel to examine the mental health status of the defendant.
Defendant Matthew Bryant allegedly directed “I’m going to kill you all” to multiple employees of Willett Elementary School in Davis on Feb. 27, according to information presented at a preliminary hearing.
Davis Police Officer Christina Giannone described how she was dispatched to the elementary school on Sycamore and 8th in Davis. CA, in response to a man in the parking lot throwing bottles.
Upon arrival, she spoke to a witness, an employee at the school, who said he had heard an ongoing honk from the street side of the school, and noticed a red Toyota Prius in the parking lot with a single white male inside.
The witness described the man as very erratic, and heard him yell, “I’m going to kill you all,” then point at a second witness, another employee of the school, and yelling “You mother_____, you’re going to get shot.” The witness feared for his life.
The second witness claimed that she was occupied with calling the police, but she did hear the man yell “b____,” “f___,” and “c___,” and understood these expletives were directed at her.
Officer Giannone was able to take down the license plate number of the red Prius and eventually arrived at the defendant’s residence a few blocks away from the school. Bryant indicated that he had been at Willett Elementary earlier in the day and that he had thrown a bottle towards the school.
Bryant said he had been a para-educator at the school in 2014 and he had been fired. He was upset with the other employees at Willett because “they had forgotten him.”
Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez cross-examined Giannone, trying to make the point that the witness had not clearly heard a threat from Bryant because of the ongoing honking from his vehicle. He claimed the witness had either heard “I’m going to kill you all” or “You’re all going to die.”
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman claimed the intent of these statements are the same and the distinction is not important.
Gonzalez also mentioned witness testimony to substantiate claims that Bryant suffers from mental illness. One witness heard Bryant claim his mother was murdered in the elementary school and that he is the owner of the facility. No evidence was presented to support this claim.
The public defender highlighted Officer Giannone’s interaction with Bryant as well. He asked Giannone if she adapted her tone when talking with Bryant, and she said she had for the purpose of putting both herself and the defendant more at ease after the incident. She did not explicitly say this was because she was “aware that Mr. Bryant may not have been mentally all there,” as Gonzalez had presented in the question.
Giannone further described how Bryant claimed his mother was in the CIA so he had access to guns from the government, as well as from other people as well. However, he immediately said he was afraid of guns as he was shot in high school and his mother was shot when she had been in the hospital. No evidence was presented to support these claims.
After Officer Giannone was excused by Judge Reed, the defense argued to reduce Bryant’s charge to a misdemeanor.
Gonzalez explained that Bryant is 36 years old, and he has kept his mental health issues under control for the majority of his life. He is self-sufficient and manages his own medications. He also recently put his childhood home on the market after inheriting it from his mother, and successfully sold the home and moved to a new location in Davis.
The defense claims that the incident in question was a one-time mental break, and Bryant should have been immediately hospitalized instead of being arrested or placed in custody. Once Bryant was hospitalized, it took 26 days to stabilize from this break in his mental health.
Gonzalez argued that, because there is no criminal intent for what happened, Bryant’s case should be handled as a misdemeanor because it was just “one sad instance” where he had an issue with his mental health.
Judge Reed highlighted the evidence that Bryant had threatened to kill multiple people and that he could have guns in his possession or access to guns—adding that, while he found the conduct serious, Reed encouraged both parties to attain more information regarding Bryant’s past and current mental health issues.
The judge said that because there was a lack of information presented about Bryant’s mental health, he cannot consider it, and does not find it appropriate to follow the defense’s suggestion based on the evidence presented Tuesday. The case will continue as a felony criminal threats charge.
Court proceedings will resume on Nov. 24 at 9 a.m. under Judge Paul Richardson.
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