By Katie DaQuino
DUBLIN, CA – A filing delay put Alameda County Superior Court in a difficult situation last Friday when a defendant who would normally be kept in custody for the safety of the community exhibited a change in character during the eight months since the offense.
Khalil Kelly was charged with breaking into a graphic design fraternity at UC Berkeley and stealing a projector.
Normally, for this kind of home invasion charge, the judge would not release the defendant, seeing it as too high of a risk to the community. Coupled with Kelly’s past criminal record, this would have been an easy decision eight months ago.
However, a lot of time has passed since Kelly broke into the residence. In this time, Kelly has turned a corner, participating in a successful diversion program relating to a separate charge in San Francisco and is looking for work, somewhat ironically, as a graphic designer.
Both witnesses said that they do not want to prosecute Kelly, one of them noting, “No one got hurt…didn’t think jail would help, and believes the system should support Khalil and help him out so he doesn’t have to steal again.”
In response to the issue of bail, Kelly is homeless and does not have financial support. However, he does have emotional support from his family as well as a place he can live.
The prosecutor, Andrew Ross, pushed back against the defense request to decrease bail. Ross voiced his concerns about the crime and Kelly’s criminal history, listing an extensive list of past crimes and failures to appear in court.
Ross then described the incident, in which Kelly surveilled the building by attending a party and then “with people sleeping in the residence, (broke) in through the ceiling.”
Kelly’s defense attorney said, “It is a diversion because there are proof problems over there (San Francisco), the purpose of diversion is that hopefully there could be a dismissal of that charge.” She assured the judge that Kelly will re-enter the diversion program, which he began two months ago, as soon as he is released from custody.
When asked if he has any response, Ross explained that he has his own negative opinion of this program and the system in San Francisco, but said he will keep his response to himself.
“You can probably both see that the court is struggling with this one,” the judge began before making her verdict. While she would normally “think that the danger to the community outweighs anything else” in a first-degree burglary, she saw the benefit of the diversion program as an alternative to jail in this case.
She ultimately decided to release Kelly without bail, though she included the precaution of an ankle monitor. He is ordered to appear in court in late March.
Katie DaQuino is a court watch reporter for The Vanguard at Berkeley. She is a sophomore studying Political Science, Public Policy, and Human Rights at Cal. She is from Los Gatos, California.