Testimonies of Victim and Witness Vastly Differ in Assault Case


By Roxanna Jarvis

SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento man’s jury trial was set after Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Goodman this week heard details surrounding his charges—the alleged use of lead pipes, machete and axe, and the presence of multiple officers and K-9 units during arrest.

The one thing that stood out was the differences in victim and witness testimonies.

On Oct. 31, 2020, around 11 a.m., Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. deputies and K-9 units surrounded defendant Gregory Sanoski’s home. Deputy Edwin Yip positioned his patrol vehicle in front of the residence and spent several minutes ordering Sanoski over his PA system to come out.

It is alleged that earlier that morning, Sanoski approached his wife’s friend on three separate occasions, each time assaulting him with a number of different items—one was an axe.

Sanoski now faces multiple felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon and assault likely to cause great bodily injury (GBI). He is additionally charged with a misdemeanor for resisting arrest.

At the beginning of Sanoski’s preliminary hearing, it was agreed by both Assistant Public Defender Kimberli Miller and Deputy District Attorney Alexandra Sanders that the identification of Sanoski as the assailant would not be disputed.

Sanoski’s wife and the alleged victim arrived at the defendant’s home around 9:45 a.m. The defendant’s wife was in the process of moving out of the residence and the victim was assisting her for the remaining days left.

According to a witness present who arrived before Sanoski’s wife and the victim, Sanoski only became upset when the victim and his wife arrived. This witness, who gave a statement to Deputy Yip, stated he was there to be a “peacekeeper” for the two parties.

Upon arrival, an argument occurred between Sanoski and his wife over shared property of a washer and dryer in their garage. “Mr. Sanoski began to…(talk) ill of and (say) curse words to the (victim) and Mrs. Sanoski.”

According to the alleged victim, Sanoski yelled at him to “not come into his house” and threw a large metal pipe toward him. Sanoski then went back inside his house from the garage.

The witness claimed that he and the victim were out in the driveway when this occurred. He described the items thrown toward the victim to be “two lead pipes and a (can) of Comet (the cleaning powder).”

Yet, the victim never mentioned the witness being there in his statement to Deputy Jessica Hauck. The victim instead told Hauck that he was in Sanoski’s garage at the time working to take out one of the washer/dryer units.

The pipe thrown injured the victim’s leg and caused a laceration.

“I remember it being smaller in length (than the other injuries). (The victim) said that it didn’t faze him at the time, however it was sore when I spoke with him,” explained Deputy Hauck to the court.

The second incident happened a few minutes later.

The victim stated that while both men were in the garage, Sanoski appeared at the doorway and had a machete in his hand. He claimed that Sanoski swung the machete at him but “did not strike him” and he went back inside the house.

“Initially (the witness) said Mr. Sanoski was waving it around in a brandishing sort of manner and then afterwards he swung the machete in the direction of (the victim) and (himself),” said Deputy Yip, recounting the witness’s statement.

According to the witness, the men were actually still on the driveway when this occurred and not in the garage. The witness told Dep. Yip that Sanoski was 6-8 feet away from the men and neither were hit. The machete was described to have “a serrated blade and to be “rather large.”

After Sanoski stopped swinging the machete and went back inside. It was “almost instantaneous” that Sanoski reappeared with an axe.

Deputy Hauck then described the victim’s perception of events (which he stated happened in the garage). “Mr. Sanoski came out of the home through the same interior garage door…this time holding a large axe and struck (the victim) in his torso causing injury.”

The victim described his injury as located on his upper torso, below one of his nipple areas. Detective Hauck was able to look at the injury at the scene and estimated it to be “approximately four inches in length of (a) scratch or laceration.”

The witness, though, had a different memory of events. He told Deputy Yip that he and the victim were still in the driveway and that Sanoski swung the axe in the same fashion as he did with the machete.

“It was one swing,” Deputy Yip relayed. “An additional attempt to swing was when (the witness) and (the victim) wrestled the axe away from Mr. Sanoski from there.”

Additionally, Deputy Yip confirmed that the witness was also “not positive” on whether the victim had actually been hit with the axe.

Although the statements from the men are vastly different, both claim they tackled Sanoski and attempted to take the axe from him. They also admitted that they punched him.

The witness was quoted as saying, “We wrestled the axe away from him and I was trying to beat his a** because he had swung the axe at me.”

When questioned by PD Miller if the quote meant that the men continued to punch Sanoski after the axe was taken away, Yip answered, “It wasn’t ‘continued to beat,’ it was ‘I was trying to’ because (the witness) stated he was upset as far as what had happened and he felt that that was what he was essentially justified to do as far as self-defense was concerned.”

When deputies arrived at the scene, both men were across the street while Sanoski was inside the house. Sanoski was eventually apprehended.

Deputy Hauck stated that the victim was seen by medical personnel at the scene, but denied ambulance transportation. Additionally, she stated that she did not recall seeing blood in or outside of the garage.

In her closing argument, PD Miller pointed out the differences in statements between the victim and the witness in the case.

“As you can see (the victim’s) statement to Deputy Hauck and (the witness’s) statement to Deputy Yip puts them in two entirely different locations,” PD Miller claimed. “And (the victim’s) statement does not include that there was anyone else present when that occurred. (The witness) indicated that he was present during this whole incident.”

PD Miller continued, noting how both men did not leave after Sanoski threw the pipe and swung the machete.

“There was nothing that happened after the machete that caused them…to fear enough to move away. Instead they stayed and stood in the exact same spot. I’m not saying this behavior is normal, but it might be normal between the three of them. Because no one seems to have blinked twice at it,” said Miller.

In her response, DDA Sanders noted that what’s important is that the machete was swung, not that the men were afraid.

“Whether or not (the witness) believed he was a target isn’t necessarily relevant to whether or not Mr. Sanoski was swinging the axe and the machete at him….(the victim) leaving (the witness) out of his statement does not mean that it didn’t happen,” Sanders said.

Judge Goodman ordered that Sanoski be held to answer for the charges alleged.

“There does seem for purposes of preliminary hearing sufficient evidence that suggest that both the machete and axe were used in an aggressive and assaultive way and that both victims were potentially within striking distance of both,” said the judge, who set the trial for April 12.

Roxanna Jarvis is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley, currently majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is from Sacramento, California.

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