By Ankita Joshi
SACRAMENTO, CA – A judge here in Sacramento County Superior Court this week refused to reduce felony kidnapping and assault charges for defendant Arturo Sanchez, accused of taking his ex-girlfriend from her home and threatening to kill her.
Judge Allen Sumner maintained felony charges against Sanchez, and moved to hold him due to a “risk for public safety.” He also scheduled a bail hearing for April 19.
The first and only witness that was called during the preliminary hearing was Officer Victor Stevens, the responding officer at the scene after the victim had reported the incident. Deputy District Attorney Teal Ericson asked Officer Stevens to outline the events of the night after responding to the victim’s 911 call.
On November 16, 2020, at approximately 10:30pm, Officer Stevens was dispatched to a house in Sacramento County, and when he arrived, the victim told him about the incident that happened the previous day with Sanchez, who was her ex-boyfriend.
The victim and Sanchez had started dating in August of 2020, and had recently broken up when Sanchez arrived at the victim’s place of work/home, a transitional housing unit for women where the victim works as a housing manager.
The victim had asked Sanchez to leave repeatedly, but Sanchez had apparently taken this rejection badly and grabbed the victim by the neck and slammed her against the wall.
The victim relayed to Officer Stevens that she had no idea where they were going, and didn’t recognize the house or street, but did recognize it as a “tweaker house.”
When Sanchez asked the victim to get out of the car, she refused. Sanchez then signaled to a second man who was standing at the front of the house and stated that if she didn’t get out of the car, that man would kill her.
Again fearing for her life, the victim went inside the house and sat down, but Sanchez “did not like where she sat,” so he dragged her to another spot, slammed her against the ground, which was when the victim stated she had some trouble breathing.
The victim and the defendant moved to another room where another woman was, and Sanchez started yelling and accusing the victim of cheating on him.
After an unknown amount of time, Sanchez told the victim that she could take his car and leave, but the victim refused, as taking the defendant’s car would provide an opportunity for the defendant to come back to her place of residence at a later time.
Sanchez eventually agreed to drive her back to her residence, but would not leave when the victim asked and forced himself inside her house. The defendant finally left the house around 10 p.m. on November 15.
Officer Stevens also outlined the injuries that the victim presented to him, which included “bruising to the left bicep and triceps area, the lower left side of her neck, as well as the middle of her back, and then she described as having a general complaint of pain to her head, neck, chest and back.”
It was then defense attorney Alan Donato’s turn to address the witness, confirming through the officer that there were a lot of women who resided within the transitional housing unit, and there were no witnesses to the incident, regardless of the location, and no surveillance cameras either.
However, when questioned, Officer Stevens admitted that he had not asked anyone about the presence of surveillance cameras.
Donato continued to present doubt about the evidence against the defendant, as the shirt that was allegedly torn off the victim was not put into evidence and was not given to the police. Additionally, the victim could not remember anything about the second location the defendant had taken her to.
In addition, Donato also noted that Sanchez had offered to give the victim his car, but she had made the decision to stay despite how “fearful she was of her safety.”
Finally, Donato addressed the fact that the victim waited a whole day to contact the police, even though “she thought that Mr. Sanchez’s threats to kill her were serious.”
Following this, Sanchez’s previous drug history with meth was brought up, and Donato asked Officer Stevens if he had asked the victim if she had been on meth the night of the incident, and if that was the reason why she had waited a whole day to call the police.
Officer Stevens again admitted that he had not.
Closing out the preliminary hearing, Donato requested to file a 17(b) motion to reduce the felony charges against Sanchez to a misdemeanor because the victim had previously testified in this case and had expressed that she wanted Sanchez to be released, despite a no contact order.
Donato also noted the injuries to the victim were not “serious,” noting, “The injuries to [the victim] if we take her words at face value are diminished. Slight bruising, not so much as a scratch, a scrape. She wasn’t choked, she wasn’t hit, she wasn’t slapped, she wasn’t kicked. She was pushed and pulled around.”
DDA Ericson asked for a denial of the 17(b) motion due to the “egregious” record of the defendant starting in 2008, which included two previous strikes and a total of nine years and eight months in state prison.
The DDA added, “Bruising is serious… what we have here is multiple incidents of strangulation. When he first slams her against the wall, she says she could still breathe, but breathing is not the only injury that can be caused by putting hands on someone’s neck. It’s blocking blood flow to and from the brain, which is incredibly serious.”
Judge Sumner denied the 17(b) motion, and maintained the felony charge against Sanchez.
After this motion was denied, Donato moved into bail consideration, but was halted due to the new procedural law under In re Humphrey requiring the victim to be notified or present at the bail hearing.
Judge Sumner declared that the statement given by the victim at a previous hearing would not stand for the current bail hearing.
After failing to reach the victim during a short break, the bail hearing was rescheduled to April 19 and Judge Sumner moved to hold Sanchez, charging he “does pose a risk to public safety.”
Ankita Joshi is a second-year student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing a major in International Studies and a minor in Political Science. She is originally from Sacramento, CA.
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