By Roselyn Poommai
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assistant Public Defender Sameera Ali suggested at a preliminary hearing here this week in Sacramento County Superior Court that alleged domestic violence injuries were minor, and that the defendant had a clean record since his arrest about a year and a half ago.
The prosecution countered that defendant Demetrius Williams was a “repeat defender” with a history of domestic violence.
On Nov. 10, 2019, testifying Officer Hakim Dyson responded to a 911 dispatch at 1:30 a.m. regarding gun possession among a group of individuals. However, the group of more than 10 immediately dispersed when it spotted Dyson.
But a female at the scene, who appeared to be driving that group away, then caught Dyson’s attention. The female identified herself as the victim’s friend and was the only individual volunteering statements to Officer Dyson.
She explained that the alleged victim, referred to in the court as Ms. Doe, had been walking back from the nightclub to the parking garage across the street with a male subject when Ms. Doe spotted her ex-boyfriend, defendant Williams, in his vehicle.
She described that the victim watched Williams exit the vehicle before he allegedly hurled a glass alcohol bottle at her head.
Officer Dyson indicated in the prosecution’s direct examination that it was “very difficult” to personally obtain the victim’s statement because she was so reluctant.
“She was very, very scared,” Dyson recalled, and described Ms. Doe as “crying very frantically” and “constantly pacing and walking around” away from him.
Dyson further noted in his police report that the victim had “swelling over her eye” and blood that appeared fresh, which the victim indicated was from the glass bottle thrown at her.
During the defense’s cross-examination, APD Ali questioned the extent of the victim’s injuries and claimed that Ms. Doe only sought medical attention after learning that Officer Dyson could not otherwise provide her transportation.
“She only asked for medical attention after she was refused to get a ride from you, and she refused to go with her friends, correct?” Officer Dyson confirmed.
Ali then asked, “And you had informed her that if she did seek medical attention, that you would be able to give her a ride somewhere, correct?” to which Dyson also agreed.
The defense further emphasized that both the victim and her witness friend were noticeably intoxicated when giving Officer Dyson their statement of the incident.
There was no known indication of an altercation prior to Williams’ and Ms. Doe’s interaction that night.
PD Ali requested that the court consider reducing Williams’ felony allegation to a misdemeanor, noting Williams had no prior convictions, continuously works part-time to support his family, and continues to be free of any ongoing issues since the 2019 allegation.
Ali further argued that the victim’s injuries were “not substantial” and that she was in “proper medical condition” to be transported by her friends. It was not until after Officer Dyson distinguished his role that the victim formally requested medical support from him.
However, Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Maroun strongly objected to the felony reduction.
She described Defendant Williams as a “repeat offender” and listed five separate occasions to which the victim had contacted the police regarding the defendant but did not result in arrest.
“The fact that the defendant has not been arrested since this happened doesn’t change the conduct itself,” DDA Maroun pointed out.
Maroun went on to describe that “the defendant failed to appear previously on this matter, so that does show he’s not taking this matter seriously and hasn’t taken the necessary steps to make this matter seriously.”
Judge Kevin R. Culhane acknowledged both sides but asserted that both the defense and prosecution had raised matters beyond the evidence present for the preliminary hearing.
Judge Culhane put forth that he “always comes back to the simple question of whether there’s substantial cause to believe that the crime was committed,” and with that, set Defendant Williams’ trial date on May 19.
Roselyn is a second-year undergraduate double-majoring in Psychological Science and Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. A native of Los Angeles, California, she is passionate about the role of human behavior in the criminal justice system.
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