Strip Search Deal Moves On, but Judge’s Calendar Stalls after Cop Evidence Proves Faulty

By Hannah Skepner

SACRAMENTO – Only one case out of 19 originally set for Judge Helen Gweon’s department here in Sacramento County Superior Court this past Friday morning was ready to proceed—and it was about a crime INSIDE the jail as a result of a strip search.

The one case that was ready to go was that of defendant Vanessa Chavez, who was present via Zoom.

Deputy District Attorney Kristin Hayes presented the negotiated disposition that Chavez would plead no contest to Count 1 of her charges for 120 days in addition to two years of formal probation.

Hayes proceeded with the factual basis in which she stated that on or around Jan. 4, Chavez committed a felony when, during a strip search at the jail, a glass methamphetamine smoking pipe was found during a strip search.

The defendant pleaded no contest to Count 1. Judge Gweon placed the defendant on two years of formal probation, and 120 days in jail. Chavez has time credit for 20 actual days and 20 good time work time days for a total of 40 days credit toward her sentence.

Chavez will sign up for a work project or home detention by Jan. 4, 2021, to serve the remaining time. But if her request for alternate means of service is rejected by probation, she must turn herself in by Feb. 26, 2021.

And, in one of the many other cases continued, Deputy District Attorney Sterling Wilkens admitted  the prosecution was in the process of subpoenaing medical records in the case after they ran into errors regarding incorrect information in the police report.

The original subpoenas involving defendant Christopher Kelly were sent to the incorrect health care facility. The subsequent subpoenas that were sent then contained incorrect patient identifying information.

To make matters even worse, the victim had changed his phone number since the incident, so it became extremely difficult for DDA Wilkens to get in touch with him. After much searching, the DDA was finally able to track the victim down.

DDA Wilkens said he now feels he has all of the necessary information to send out the correct subpoenas to the correct facility. He believes he will have all of the correct information to proceed with the case in a matter of weeks.

The court agreed to continue the preliminary hearing until Jan. 22, 2021.

Hi! I’m Hannah Skepner, and I’m from the East Bay Area. I’m a third year this year at UC Davis, and am currently majoring in Communications and minoring in Psychology.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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