By Özge Terzioğlu
SACRAMENTO—The victim in defendant Jameson Gold’s case told police officers at the scene that the defendant burned down her previous residence and attempted to do the same to her current home.
But then the story changed in this domestic violence case.
When the victim talked to the district attorney’s office, the victim said she accused him out of anger and does not want him prosecuted.
Defendant Gold was in Sacramento County Superior Court, Dept. 60, this week for allegedly committing a serious felony on Nov. 15, maliciously setting fire to the victim’s property.
With a prior felony conviction of PC § 459, first degree burglary, Gold is within the provisions of the 2 strikes law. He was also facing a misdemeanor for using force and violence against the victim, whom he was dating at the time.
What seemed like a regular hearing to schedule further hearings quickly turned into an unveiling of the facts and history of the defendant and victim’s relationship.
After Assistant Public Defender Joseph Cress was appointed, Deputy District Attorney Renishta Lal explained to the temporary judge that the bail was incorrectly set at $25,000, and instead should be $1 million.
She said since the defendant was in medical quarantine when he was in custody in November, they couldn’t correct the bail, which should be increased even under the emergency bail schedule because he has a prior strike.
To justify raising the bail, which the defendant posted before his arraignment in court, DDA Lal stated that Gold was on active parole for a domestic violence case when these current violations occurred.
He also has a parole violation from 2019, a misdemeanor case, another parole violation, a prison sentence for a strike case from 2017, drug cases, a felony for reckless evading from 2005, and five bench warrants from Dec. 13, 2018, for failing to appear. She also mentioned he’s on probation for a misdemeanor—petty theft.
When DDA Lal spoke to the victim she said the victim was not cooperative and not supportive of prosecution. She explained that on Nov. 15, the victim and defendant Gold, who have been dating for about five years, had an argument. The victim told Gold he cannot stay in her apartment.
The defendant got upset then started packing his belongings. The victim went outside and told him to leave, to which Gold threatened that he was “going to light [her] f***ing apartment on fire.” The victim told police officers at the scene that her previous residence was burned down because of the defendant.
After that, the victim said she ran outside, but defendant Gold threw a cone at her. The victim told officers that the defendant has been physical with her 20 times, and she’s been hospitalized many times as a result.
However, the victim retracted these statements when she talked to DDA Lal. She said her previous residence burned down because of electrical issues and she claimed she never said defendant Gold was the cause of that fire. The victim also claimed she’s never been hospitalized, and she merely wanted to press charges on Gold out of anger.
DDA Lal requested for the defendant’s parole to be reassessed because he’s currently on parole for domestic violence charges.
In response, PD Joseph Cress reiterated what DDA Lal said, that the victim doesn’t want a no contact order and she doesn’t support prosecution, as well as her retractions about her statements regarding the burning down of her residence and hospitalizations.
In defense of his client, PD Cress said that defendant Gold sells telephones for a living, he’s lived in Sacramento for 30 years, he posted the bail, and appeared in court today.
PD Cress mentioned how DDA Lal was suggesting “presumptive bail,” but “after Humphrey, I don’t think we should presume anything. Bail should be set so he can afford to come to court and pay his bail.” (The Humphrey case ruled that financial status of the defendant must be considered when setting bail. )
The judge responded, “Well, unless the court finds no combination of conditions, there would be no bail.”
PD Cress repeated his argument that defendant Gold posted bail, came to court, and the victim doesn’t want prosecution. But the judge reasoned that “it’s not uncommon for victims to recant their statements.”
PD Cress agreed but critiqued the language used by DDA Lal when she recounted the victim’s divergent stories to different members of law enforcement.
“It’s interesting that in the first version we use the term ‘state’ and in the second version we use the term ‘claim,’ as if they’re different. (The victim) said divergent things to law enforcement, and she simply states it doesn’t happen the second time she told them.”
After deciding she heard enough, the judge said, “My concern is that this is a serious crime and the previous felony conviction ups the ante in this case. The defendant is on parole and on probation, he has prior violations and has engaged in serious conduct in the past. This gives me concern, and while I recognize he’s here, that simply doesn’t address the issue of dangerousness.”
“What are the conditions that would guarantee safety in the community? I’m not worried he’s a flight risk, I’m worried about the safety of the community. For that reason, I’m setting bail at $500,000, without prejudice,” she ruled.
The judge then addressed PD Cress: “If there are conditions of release that would satisfy the court on the issue of dangerousness, you’re free to bring those back to the court.”
Defendant Gold’s next hearing is Dec. 16, at 8:30 a.m. in Dept. 60.
Özge Terzioğlu is from San Diego and she is a sophomore at UC Berkeley majoring in Rhetoric and minoring in Turkish.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9
Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link: