Police Officers in Murder Trial Recount Differing Stories on What Happened during Home Invasion Robbery 12 Years Ago


By Aziza Nussipov and Savannah Dewberry

SACRAMENTO, CA – Twelve years is a long time, even for trained law enforcement officers, as was evident here in Sacramento County Superior Court this week in the preliminary hearing of John Meskell, charged with first degree murder and a home invasion robbery that occurred on Feb. 5, 2009.

With Judge Steve White presiding, Deputy District Attorney Kristen Anderson called to the stand multiple police officers who had responded to the scene 12 years ago—they recounted what witnesses to the incident had told them but the stories were inconsistent.

According to the victim of the incident, as he was entering his home, he became aware of two men behind him—one of them, John Meskell, was in possession of a handgun. They allegedly forced him into his home, demanding money.

When they entered the house, the victim called for his brother. The two men who had followed him into the house then demanded money from both the victim and his brother.

The victim started to make his way to the backyard to get a shovel. The subject with the handgun fired at him but the gun misfired.

The victim was able to get a shovel and come back inside. When he came back, Meskell’s partner had his back turned so the victim struck him in the head with the shovel. Then he put the shovel down and said, “All right man, I’m sorry.”

Immediately after, according to the defendant, Meskell shot the victim’s brother, then dropped the gun and ran out. The victim chased after him.

According to police Officer Brannon Polete, to whom the victim had relayed his story to, he answered to a “shots fired call” on Feb. 8, 2009, at 1:17 in the morning. There he found the victim at his place of residence after the events took place. He had blood on his face and a severe laceration on his forehead.

The officer also noticed small abrasions on the victim’s face, which he explained occurs when someone had a gun fired very close to their face.

Detective David Treat had a different perspective of the event. When he arrived at the scene, the victim’s brother was lying on the floor in a bedroom at the north of the house. The detective noticed he had been shot and there was an empty shotgun shell near him.

Detective Treat tried to get the story of what happened from him but he was turning paler by the minute and he was losing consciousness. Treat told him that he was going to die soon and that “inspired him” at the last minute to relay to the detective that, while “he was on his computer,” a white male came in, tried to tie him up, and ultimately shot him.

The victim’s brother did not know who it was that shot him and he made it clear to the detective that it was not an accident.

Officer Troy Thompson also gathered from an eyewitness, who was across the street from the house at the time, that he first saw a “white male in his late twenties” run out of the house in a white or grey t-shirt with jeans. The white male had a cellphone in his hand and was yelling for help.

Then a “white or Hispanic male with a gun in his hand came out” after the first man. The person with the gun followed the first man. However, he then went a different direction and ran toward a green pickup truck and drove away.

The third person that left the house met up with the first person and they appeared to be friends. They also began to walk away.

In addition to the confusing witness accounts, an abundance of evidence was analyzed by the court as well. Guns, a stun gun, zip ties, ammunition, and a shingle stripper were strewn about the scene of the crime. Most notably, a DNA hit for Meskell was found on the zip ties found at the scene.

It also came to the attention of the court that Meskell was in possession of firearms, illegally.

A Detective Mullaly had a warrant to search defendant Meskell’s home in July of 2010. Found in the defendant’s home were two handguns kept in a container that also held mail in the defendant’s name. Neither of the handguns were registered to Meskell.

When questioned by Mullaly, Meskell denied knowing of the handguns; when later asked if his fingerprints could be on the firearms, Meskell said he possibly touched or handled the guns a year prior, according to Detective Mullaly. Mullaly also said that Meskell had mentioned a friend who had access to his garage, and Mullaly said Meskell implied the handguns could be his friend’s.

The firearms, ammunition, and a pair of gloves found in the container were all seized for evidence.

Judge Steve White announced the preliminary hearing would reconvene on March 25 at 8:30 a.m. with more witnesses.

Aziza Nussipov is a junior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science. She is also a DJ for a freeform radio station, KDVS 90.3FM, and a part of the ASUCD Gender and Sexuality Commission.



Savannah Dewberry is a student at the University of San Francisco. She is pursuing a media studies major with a minor in journalism. Savannah Dewberry is an East Bay native and currently lives in San Francisco.

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