By Ankita Joshi
SACRAMENTO, CA – Defendant Richard Mann let loose a series of loud outbursts in Sacramento County Superior Court Wednesday, repeatedly declaring “he didn’t understand” why he was in court, and that the court was “trying to manipulate” him into confessing to crimes he did not commit.
Judge Alyson L. Lewis and Assistant Public Defender Sameera Ali tried their best to calm Mann down throughout the preliminary hearing, but Mann continued to make outbursts and interrupt the judge and the testimonies of witnesses.
Mann is charged with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury—he is alleged to have stabbed the victim after the victim refused to give back to Mann’s son his EBT card, and then harassing a witness at the scene with racial slurs.
This question caused Mann to start yelling at the judge and the court in general, stating, “I don’t even understand why I’m here, do you understand that?”
Judge Lewis tried to calm Mann down by asking him to face her in court, so they could communicate better, rather than over the small Zoom screen, as Mann was present out of custody in court and was sitting sideways with his head down.
At this, Mann yelled out a series of accusations and insults at Judge Lewis including, but not limited to: “She’s trying to manipulate me,” “I’m sitting here getting accused of the crime, and you’re sitting up there laughing at me,” and “I can’t look at her ugly face!”
For the next 10 minutes, this series of outbursts continued while APD Ali tried to get Mann to agree to his understanding of the charges against him and to stop interrupting Judge Lewis.
Mann continued to yell out, “Is this a feelings court or what? You’re not the one being charged. You’re not the one having to go through this, so just do your spiel and go home!”
Finally, Judge Lewis grew exasperated with Mann’s outbursts and told him to sit and listen to her without interrupting, or she would not continue with his preliminary hearing.
“Just like a dog,” replied Mann, and then proceeded to ignore any questions addressed to him, and only stated, “I’m not allowed to speak.”
Eventually, PD Ali was able to calm Mann down enough to begin the preliminary hearing, but before being quiet Mann let out a final shout of, “I have always been manipulated by the courts.”
The first witness to be called by Deputy District Attorney Rainey Jacobson was Officer Pavel Stefoglo who was called to address a stabbing on August 23, 2020, at 9:22 a.m.
In his testimony, Stefoglo relayed the victim’s statement on the stabbing incident.
Two days prior to the stabbing, Mann’s son had borrowed $20 from the victim. When the victim asked for his money back, Mann’s son lent the victim his EBT card instead.
On the morning of August 23, Mann and his son went to the victim’s house to collect the EBT card, when Mann told the victim to “give me the EBT card you f****** (n-word). I’ll stab your a**.”
Mann had a kitchen knife with a brown handle in his hand and was allegedly approaching the victim while wielding the knife in a stabbing motion.
Officer Stefoglo relayed that the victim had a three-inch laceration to his left hand that was “gushing blood” through a towel when he came to collect his statement.
When DDA Jacobson asked Mann to remove his mask so that Officer Stefoglo could identify him, Mann yelled, “What is this? A dog and pony show? He doesn’t know who I am! I never even seen him before, how can he identify me? This guy is a true hero rookie cop” before finally removing his mask for identification.
During PD Ali’s interrogation, Officer Stefoglo added that the victim did not want to give back the EBT card because he had not spent the $20 owed to him, but handed it over to officers and asked for it to be returned to Mann’s son.
Additionally, there was allegedly another female passenger present in Mann’s car, but Officer Stefoglo did not recall a female witness at the scene.
And when further interrogated, Stefoglo did state during the initial police report that he had wondered if the victim’s injury might have been from grabbing the knife, as the wound was “too perfect” to have been from stabbing.
The second witness called was Officer Joel McVey, who had also responded to a call about a stabbing and had arrested Mann at the scene of the crime.
In his testimony, Officer McVey said he had contact with a witness who had seen a man bleeding and he had approached the suspect, whom McVey was able to identify as Mann.
When the witness approached Mann’s van, Mann called out, “What are you looking at (n-word),” and was holding a knife in his left hand.
The witness had then asked Mann a question to which Mann responded, ““I’ll f****** kill you (n-word).” The witness then backed up, fearing for his life.
Officer McVey also noted that, upon arrest, Mann had blood on his pants, and there were blood droplets along the inner door of the van. The knife was located on the dashboard and had dried blood on the blade.
PD Ali noted in her interrogation that the witness did not actually witness the stabbing, but rather just saw two white men and one Black man arguing.
Reading through the victim report, PD Ali also noted that the witness had told Mann he was going to jail and to stay out of “their neighborhood,” and had stated “when the jail doors close, remember what you did and how you’re going to pay for it.”
Officer McVey stated that this was not included in his police report, and he had not reviewed his body cam footage prior to the hearing, so he did not recall that part of the witness statement.
Additionally, there was another witness who had claimed there was an alleged video that captured the entire incident, but this was never followed up on by another of the officers at the scene of the crime.
Officer McVey also brought up Mann’s statement which he had taken during the time of the arrest, where Mann said he had poked the knife at the victim, which had caused the victim to grab the blade of the knife.
At this, Mann interrupted and yelled out, “He’s lying! I never said that!”
Once all witnesses had finished their testimonies, PD Ali entered a request for a reduction to a misdemeanor (17b motion) for both felony charges, due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
PD Ali brought up that many of the witness testimonies and officer testimonies were conflicting, but after piecing together similar elements from all, it’s apparent that “the injury is associated with the victim’s own action, not the stabbing motion of the defendant.”
Mann’s previous conviction history is also very minimal, holding only three misdemeanor charges, the earliest of which was in 2013.
Additionally, Mann’s primary focus is to take care and provide for his son, who is a drug addict and has been in the process of recovery for a long period of time, which is especially hard to do since Mann currently lives in his car.
PD Ali also noted that the location of the blood in the van indicates that the victim tried to enter the van when the alleged stabbing occurred, and the incident is an “isolated incident of violence and stemmed from someone taking an EBT card from his son who he cares about deeply.”
DDA Jacobson responded by stating that there is more than enough sufficient evidence for both felony counts, regardless of the differing statements given. This was emphasized upon by the use of racial slurs by the defendant.
She contended that the 17(b) motion should be denied despite mitigating evidence, especially since Mann stabbed one individual and threatened a second individual with the use of racial slurs.
Judge Lewis ruled to side with the prosecution and upheld both felony charges.
However, before the hearing could end, Mann let out another outburst stating that he didn’t know the details of the prior plea offer, and claimed he would have accepted it rather than move forward with a trial.
DDA Jacobson let Mann know that plea offers are usually taken off the table once a preliminary hearing begins, but would ask her supervisor if it could be extended.
A hearing was set for June 9, in hopes of a resolution.
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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