By Roxanna Jarvis
SACRAMENTO, CA — A prosecutor and defense attorney offered two different theories of events before a defendant allegedly shot a man in the stomach with a shotgun here in Sacramento County Superior Court Friday.
The defense claimed the defendant was protecting herself from the man, who allegedly tried to rape her. But the prosecutor insisted that “no evidence existed” in the police report pointing to rape.
Defendant Felicia Chavarria is charged with assault with a firearm after allegedly shooting a man with a shotgun. The alleged shooting occurred under a bridge, in which Chavarria left soon after. The alleged victim was found by officers in the road completely naked and with injuries.
Chavarria, who was in custody Friday, listened during her bail motion hearing as Deputy District Attorney Allison Wieder, standing in for her colleague DDA Mai Trieu, first began to explain the alleged victim’s injuries when asked about the case.
“This is a case in which the victim was shot in the stomach with a shotgun by the defendant at a close range. He suffered significant and extensive wounds to his stomach, his stomach appeared to be eviscerated,” Wieder said, explaining the wound in greater detail before stating the DA office’s opposition to releasing Chavarria on bail.
According to the reports DDA Wieder read from, the shooting occurred after Chavarria allegedly led the victim underneath a small bridge. While Wieder believes that Chavarria and the victim knew each other, she said she was not aware of “the extent of the victim and defendant’s prior history.”
Wieder then attempted to shut down the defense position that Chavarria shot the alleged victim because he attempted to sexually assault her.
“There is no evidence of that, that came out from the police report or at the purpose of preliminary hearing,” said Wieder.
She continued her explanation, noting “I know defense might point to the fact that the victim was found without his clothes on, [however]…the shotgun had left a hole in the [victim’s] clothing indicating that the [victim] had his clothing on at the time of the incident.”
To Wieder, there was “no other information or evidence leading to [a] sexual assault allegation” from the alleged victim to Chavarria.
Yet private defense attorney Benjamin Williams, representing Chavarria, noted the allegation of sexual assault during her early April preliminary.
A factual dispute Williams had against Wider’s claim was the alleged hole in the alleged victim’s clothing. Deputy testimony during the preliminary hearing claimed that no holes were present on the victim’s clothing.
Williams asked one of the deputies if he did not see any “defects” on the clothing, to which the deputy responded, “that’s fair to say.”
“The clothing did have blood on it, but it did not appear to have a bullet hole on it,” argued Williams.
Recollecting his understanding of the shooting incident, Williams relayed that both Chavarria and the alleged victim went under the bridge to get rid of the shotgun, which the victim is alleged to be the owner of.
“When they’re down in the canal, kind of in a secluded area where nobody could see them, [the alleged victim] took off his clothes and attempted to grab or basically rape Mrs. Chavarria,” Williams continued.
Chavarria was then said to react by firing the shotgun and leaving the area.
“This is supported by the fact that [the alleged victim] is found completely naked in the road when he’s observed by officers. I do believe that this is something that occurred when she was trying to defend herself,” Williams said.
During Chavarria’s preliminary hearing, the alleged victim testified that he had shot himself in the stomach. In Williams’ words, the alleged victim “testified very, very oddly.”
Williams believes that the alleged victim testified in this manner to “avoid any potential criminal liability of his own” regarding the accusation of attempted sexual assault on Chavarria.
Additionally, the alleged victim told officers after the shooting occurred that he “forgave the person” that shot him and did not want any charges against them.
Upon hearing that information, Judge Geoffrey Goodman stopped Williams to make sure he heard it correctly. “Well, that’s interesting,” expressed Goodman.
Along with the bail motion hearing, Williams submitted a Humphrey motion, arguing that Chavarria should receive a reasonable bail — as Williams told the court that she has no assets (except for $140 in commissary money) and cannot afford her $50,000 bail.
Chavarria is said to have been in custody since September 2020.
Goodman granted the Humphrey motion, reducing Chavarria’s bail to $1,000 and placing severe conditions for Chavarria to follow when released.
With Chavarria’s current charge, plus an additional allegation of great bodily injury that may have been added during her preliminary hearing, Chavarria could face up to seven years in prison. Her trial is set for June.
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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