By Koda Slingluff
OAKLAND – This week, the trial of Charles Kyle Goetting finally began—just over five years since a scene at an East Bay transit parking lot led to the bleak discovery of a dead body inside a rented U-Haul truck.
On Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2015, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officers noticed someone they identified as Goetting pushing a white U-Haul truck into a parking space in the Hayward Station garage. The officers observed a broken window and, suspecting theft, went to speak with Goetting.
Goetting was compliant at first, they said, correctly identifying himself to the two officers when asked. A records check indicated to the officers that Goetting was on searchable probation at any time without a warrant or probable cause.
But later, as officers processed the crime scene, they discovered a dead body inside the bed of the truck. The body was Jason Colin Anderson, age 40.
Before his arrest for the 2015 incident, Goetting already had 14 felonies on his record. Now, he is charged with many more, including murder, attempted murder, assault on a peace officer, attempting great bodily harm, possessing a firearm as a felon, and carrying a concealed firearm.
Goetting had three dispositions in 2016 which ended in dismissal. He was not found guilty or acquitted at these dispositions. He then pleaded not guilty to four charges later the same year. He denied an additional 21 charges in a plea in March 2019.
Judge Trina Thompson moved through various conditions from prosecution and defense, determining what evidence would be acceptable and what limitations would be set.
Defense raised concerns about the ability to have a public trial given the coronavirus pandemic. Judge Thompson replied that audio of the trial would be livestreamed.
Goetting’s defense attorney took issue with this, saying, “In the vast majority of cases – in this case in particular- there is a particular set of evidence… which anybody listening will not be able to see.”
Judge Thompson’s next statement acknowledged the concern wholeheartedly. But she went on to emphasize the exhausting nature of her work—especially in the pandemic.
“The court understands counsel’s position, and the position has been well taken. This has been the most challenging process that any of us have had. Mr. Goetting is—he’s been waiting for five years for a trial. And now he is here in the courtroom.”
Thompson’s even-toned attitude was stark in contrast to the defendant before her. In spite of his charges, dubbed gruesome and horrendous by many media outlets and individuals alike, Thompson took this moment to show compassion for Charles Goetting.
“The longer we stretch this out, the longer we…lose opportunity for the courts to actually resolve disputes.” She continued, again expressing compassion for Goetting’s five-year wait for a trial.
“We’ve done a great job…and it’s going to be a day by day effort respectively. We cannot make this pandemic end, but we have an obligation to allow members of the community to make an informed decision.”
The trial will resume Thursday, Feb. 4.
Koda is a junior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.
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