Judge Questions How Mental Health Factored into Crime of Felon Getting Gun to Protect Kids

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By Serene Chang, Tatiana Gasca, and Koda Slingluff 

WOODLAND, CA – Defendant Richard Alvarado Segura sat in the crossfire of prosecution and his own public defender here this week in Yolo County Superior Court as the court considered his mental health. 

While a report from a social worker suggested that a “manic episode” may explain his arrest, the court had trouble seeing the connection between Segura’s mental health and the crime charged—a felony count of illegal possession of a firearm as a felon. 

Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan submitted the report on behalf of Segura, along with a mental health diversion petition which had already been seen by several other judges. 

If granted, a mental health diversion would assign Segura a treatment plan and lower the penalties for the crime. However, the judge took issue with Davtyan’s submission before prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Chris Bulkeley even spoke.

“If I were to accept that the report from the social worker is a qualified report, I didn’t really see a discussion about how she felt that his mental health condition was related to the charge. Unless [the social worker is] saying that anything he did in his state of mind would be connected to it, regardless of what the crime was,” stated Judge David Reed.

Reed added that Davtyan may want to provide additional evidence explaining the connection between the defendant’s mental health issues and the crime he committed. 

In response, Davtyan said the analysis was based on police reports, body camera footage, and the defendant’s statements claiming he bought the gun because of fear for his children.

Both the judge and prosecutor continued to request for records to show how the defendant’s mental health issues are tied to his criminality or conduct, with the prosecutor specifically asking for records from the social worker who testified about a connection.

 “Even if he’s basing his decision on an irrational belief, he is still conscious enough to make the decision to get the gun and how he’s going to use it,” DDA Bulkeley said. “He still has the mental capacity and is aware of what he’s doing. The reports that have been provided are deficient.”

In response, Davtyan read out a portion of the social worker’s report, stating, “[Segura’s] presentation is suggestive of a manic episode as such there is a strong nexus between Mr. Segura’s mental health leading to his arrest.”

Bulkeley had two main concerns, which were shared by the judge. For one, he inquired about the social worker’s qualifications. For another, he asked to see more evidence of a link between Segura’s health and criminality.

Davtyan explained that he had gotten all the documentation the court had asked him to get, but he would gladly get more. He only took issue with the implication that they would need the defendant’s mental health records.

“I don’t think that all of his mental health records are relevant.” Davtyan replied, “I’m happy to submit a CV (bio) for (the social worker), and if that’s not enough I could see if any of the mental health professionals he works with could make an opinion.”

Although agreeing that all of Segura’s mental health records do not need to be revealed to the court, the judge maintained the defense should provide mental health records supporting the social worker’s statements. 

The judge provided some examples of records used by the social worker from Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency, Woodland Memorial Hospital, and Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center. 

“It is the People’s position that we are entitled to any medical records reviewed by Ms. Cokely, or else you’re getting a sanitized view of what’s being provided from an advocate,” Bulkeley stated. 

Davtyan agreed to provide additional mental health records at a hearing June 29.

Serene Chang is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying History, Journalism, and Human Rights. She is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Tatiana Gasca is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley, double majoring in Legal and Ethnic Studies. She is from Santa Ana, CA.

Koda is a junior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

 


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About The Author

Koda is an incoming senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

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