Preliminary Hearing Suggests Routine Yardwork Turned into Brutal Beating and Burglary

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By Christopher Datu

SACRAMENTO, CA – It was just some “routine” yard work, but it allegedly ended with a homeowner brutally beaten and burgled by three hired landscapers who made off with a laptop, phone, and loaded 45 caliber pistol.

That’s just part of the story recounted Thursday here at preliminary hearing in Dept. 18 of Sacramento County Superior Court.

The victim only knew the names of two out of the three landscapers he hired to come by his house on Jan 3. One was known purely as “Charles” and the other was one of the co-defendants Thursday, Alexandria Kraft.

The unknown worker was allegedly Jarom “Germ” Mendoza who was being charged as the other co-defendant. Both Kraft and Mendoza hold one count of assault and one count of burglary after all three workers allegedly entered the house, beat the victim until he told them about some valuables, and fled the scene.

Deputy District Attorney Kristin Hayes called Officer Terry Baggett to the stand.

Baggett was the first to arrive on the scene, getting a dispatch around 11:50 a.m. stating someone “had been beat up in their home.” Walking up to the house, Baggett recalled “an open door, the door had blood on it and the walls and the floor was bloody, too.”

According to Baggett, the victim was “sitting on the couch. He had blood on his face, lacerations on his left arm, and was clutching the left arm to his body.” Around him “items were all turned over,” leading Baggett to conclude a struggle had taken place.

The victim then reportedly told Baggett that he was assaulted by people who “he knew through a mutual friend,” that he hired to assist him with his backyard. They “worked for about 30 to 40 minutes, then they asked to come inside to use the restroom.”

Baggett asked what happened next and the victim told the officer “after Charles used the restroom he came up to him and sat down on the couch and sucker punched him” leading off with a blow to the side of his face. The other two were reportedly in the kitchen only five to 10 feet away.

The other two, the victim claimed, joined in after the sucker punch, with one reportedly yelling “where’s the money” while they all attacked on the victim. Baggett recalled the victim stating “he was drug down the hallways and his feet were bound” after he told his attackers there was money in the master bedroom wall safe.

The bedroom was ransacked as the victim recalled “an HP laptop, Samsung SM phone, and loaded Rock Island 45 caliber handgun” were brought out by the attackers. Upon exiting, the handgun was dropped, causing a struggle until one of the attackers recovered it.

The prosecution’s questioning ended there and defense attorney David Garland began the cross-examination on Kraft’s behalf.

Garland asked Baggett whether or not “[did the victim] tell you if Ms. Kraft punched him?” Baggett remembered the victim “stated to me that all three were involved in the attack.”

Garland continued trying to distance Kraft from the assault, probing her involvement with the gun, who was involved with the struggle over the gun, and who specifically had the stolen items when they left the room.

Officer Baggett ultimately answered that “[the victim] did not say who took any items specifically, but he stated Charles had the handgun, dropped the handgun, and it was regained and Charles ran out with the gun.”

Defense attorney Larenda Delaini began hers in defense of Mendoza.

Baggett’s suspect description for the unknown worker was questioned as Delaini asked if the victim ever “gave a specific description of this unknown male?” Baggett stated the victim never gave him one, resulting in his officially describing the suspect as an “unknown Hispanic male.”

The victim reportedly could not identify height, weight, facial hair or tattoos, beyond calling him “short.”

Baggett’s testimony ended there and Detective Justin Stevenson, in charge of conducting the follow up investigation, was called to the stand.

Hayes then asked Stevenson to recall if Kraft denied being involved in the incident. Kraft reportedly “denied striking him but admitted to being there at the time.”

Stevenson then retold Kraft’s account of Jarom, stating she had got the first name wrong but identified him as “Jerome ‘Germ’ Mendoza” and a friend of Charles.

Garland carried out the cross-examination quickly after only asking if the victim told Stevenson “that Ms. Kraft ever hit him.” Stevenson responded with a simple, “I do not believe so.”

Delaini then took over, asking, “Did you ever ask about tattoos that this unknown Hispanic or Black male might have had?”

Stevenson recalled asking, but “[the victim] was unable to identify any.” Delaini motioned to Mendoza and confirmed with Stevenson that there were tattoos on Mendoza’s head, face, neck, hands, and forearms.

Judge Stacy Eurie ruled there was enough evidence presented, although it’s a low bar to reach that point for Kraft and Mendoza to go to trial, set for July 12.

The other co-defendant, identified as Charles Robert Kossow, is not scheduled for trial. He has a June date regarding a doctor report.

Christopher Datu is a 4th year Political Science major at UC Davis. He is originally from Corona, California.


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