By Kathryn Wood and Lauren Smith
SACRAMENTO – In two preliminary hearings held here Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court, defendant Eric Azikiwe wound up—in baseball parlance—zero for two in separate charged felonies for looting, and then for robbery.
Deputy District Attorney Emilee Divinagracia called Officer Daniel Emerson to describe the looting event that occurred at the local Best Buy in Sacramento on June 6, 2020.
Officer Emerson explained that he was with his partner the night of the incident when their vehicle entered the business parking lot. Suddenly, he said, they “heard sounds of car horns honking” and saw seven to 15 subjects run out of the front entrance of the Best Buy.
Despite witnessing the subjects run out of the store, Emerson admitted that he could not see their faces. The store was closed at the time when the incident took place, but the front glass door had been breached.
Emerson noted that the subjects all ran in different directions, however, one vehicle proceeded in the direction toward the officer. One individual approached in the same direction, jogging toward the rear driver side door, attempting to exit the parking lot.
Emerson detained this individual, who had several electronic items in his hands. Emerson confirmed the subject detained was Azikiwe—all of the items on Azikiwe were still wrapped and had electronic security tags attached to them.
Detective Dan Bean contacted a witness and security guard that was present the night the event occurred. She confirmed that several vehicles arrived in the parking lot and went into the store.
During the cross-examination, defense attorney Isaac Choy argued that, since Emerson did not see Azikiwe enter the building, this should be considered a misdemeanor.
Divinagracia immediately disagreed, maintaining that “the defendant was found outside of the store with the items in his hand which were confirmed to belong to the store.” She noted a felony can be defined as a crime that exceeds $950 or involves an individual that enters a commercial building that is closed at the time of entry.
Following this, the court held a preliminary hearing for defendant Azikiwe’s charges of second degree-burglary, in another case.
On June 26, Officer Mason McCann responded to a call regarding an armed robbery at gunpoint at an ampm.
When he arrived at the scene, he spoke to the victim who stated that a man entered the store, “pointed a gun at him, and had asked him to give him the money in the register.”
Officer McCann testified that the victim described the gun as a “black hand gun with a larger” magazine. He described the man as “taller than him, about 5 foot, 10 inches, not wearing a mask, had a shirt wrapped around his head, wearing a gray shirt and his pants were an off white at about 3/4 length.”
The victim added that about $300-$400 was stolen from the register and that he “felt threatened” because the man pointed the firearm at him.
At the scene, Officer McCann also spoke to a man who witnessed the robbery. He stated that a man entered the store and asked for ice before walking to the counter. The witness went over to the counter to see what was going on and saw the man with a firearm.
Under cross-examination, Officer McCann stated that when he reviewed the store’s surveillance footage, he observed the suspect “pull the black handgun from his waistband.” The suspect “does not point the gun at anyone, has a conversation with the employee, then puts the gun back in his waistband.”
Det. Jayme Valdez conducted a follow up investigation of the robbery. Another officer recognized the man and shared that information with Valdez.
She next called in the victim and showed him a photo lineup. After the victim identified the man in the photo lineup, he stated he was only 80 percent sure it was the man who robbed the store, so he asked to review the surveillance footage to compare his identification.
Det. Valdez stated that it is “common practice” to allow witnesses and victims to compare their identification in a photo lineup to the surveillance footage of the crime.
After hearing the evidence of both cases, Judge Steve White ruled that there is sufficient evidence that both felony crimes have been committed, and set a pretrial hearing for Dept. 62 on Jan. 27.
Kathryn Wood is a third year at UC Davis, majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Professional Writing and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. She is from Petaluma, California.
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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