By Dario McCarty and Benjamin Porter
FRESNO, CA – Olen Maxwell, Jr., appeared for his arraignment in Dept. 11 of the Fresno County Superior Court late Friday, where he entered not guilty pleas to charges of domestic violence—he was later held in custody, awaiting his next hearing because the alleged victim said she feared him.
Following a long recess while the court awaited Maxwell’s arrival, Judge Arlan L. Harrell ordered the court back in session and appointed Earl Horner as public defender for Maxwell.
Horner began by announcing Maxwell’s intent to plead not guilty to charges of battery, criminal threat, and vandalism, but would not object to the issuance of a criminal protective order. Additionally, Horner asked for Maxwell to be released since a parole hold had been lifted.
“I am asking for the court to consider releasing him,” Horner said. “He is a lifelong Fresno County resident. He has a job working at the Pilot Truck Stop…lives with his mother, which is a separate place apart from where [the alleged victim] lives. He tells me that he has medical issues, that his hip has been giving him an issue.”
Deputy District Attorney Samantha Dukes objected to his release based on the account of an independent witness.
“There was an independent witness that observed the defendant exit a van, approach the victim, threatening to kill her, punching her,” DDA Dukes said.
“They observed the victim running into a residence to hide from him. They observed the defendant then vandalizing a vehicle. The victim requested an emergency protective order at the scene. She said she dated him in the past and feared for her safety.”
Horner used the facts that Maxwell had been sentenced to two years in 2017 and released early with no new cases in the meantime as arguments to support releasing him from custody again in this case.
However, Dukes countered this argument, citing Maxwell’s prior criminal history as further reason to not release him: “He does have three prior strikes. His history does involve a long history of violence dating back to 1985,” Dukes said.
Judge Harrell concluded the arraignment by referring Maxwell to the pretrial release program, which may determine he can be released on $0 bail, or not. But, meanwhile, Maxwell was provisionally ordered held with no bail.
Additionally, Harrell deemed it fitting to issue a protective order for Maxwell’s alleged victim, meaning Maxwell is “not to have any personal, telephone, or third party contact with [the victim]” throughout the remaining duration of the trial, nor is he to “come within 100 yards” of the victim or the victim’s residence.
Maxwell will be back in court on July 30 for his pre-preliminary hearing and Aug. 6 for his preliminary hearing.
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