Sacramento Defendant Involved in Road Rage Incident, Police and Friends Testify


By Ramneet Singh

SACRAMENTO, CA – There were plenty of witnesses to an alleged road rage shooting, but late last week in Sacramento County Superior Court Department 25, Judge Donald J. Currier utilized five testimonies to determine that there was probable cause for an alleged assault with a deadly weapon by Zachery Jeremy Jones.

The preliminary hearing started with the testimony of Officer Erik Couvrette, a witness of Deputy District Attorney Kendra Havlick. Couvrette responded to a report of a potential shooting on Highway 99.

DDA Kendra Havlick stated the facts of the case, as determined by law enforcement, that began, “…near the Sutterville Road or 12th Avenue exit,” going home from work in West Sacramento, the victim was “…taking the transition road from US 50 East Bound to SR 99 South Bound.”

During the merging process, the victim supposedly upset another driver who displayed a semi-automatic firearm. The victim was in the right lane and the offender was in the far right lane, parallel.

After the fact, the victim attempted to create distance with the offender showing the handgun about two more times. The victim angered the offender by taking pictures, showing a green Lexus and the license plate number. This culminated in the offender raising a firearm through the sunroof toward the vehicle and taking a single shot, she saw the “muzzle flash.”

The description of the offender was “a Hispanic male in his 20s, wearing a beanie, with facial hair around his chin and a mustache.” The victim noted there were two other people in the car, but did not get a good look at him.

After the fact, Officer Erik Couvrette said he checked the vehicle and saw no signs of damage.

Defense attorney Chet Templeton attempted to assess the actual direction of the gun, but Officer Couvrette did not ask which way the gun was pointed. Both cars were at highway speeds. Templeton attempted to ask about the bullet round’s ejection, but Currier noted the difference in circumstances given the speed of the vehicle.

Next, DDA Havlick called Deputy Aaron Muradyan, who saw the car on Franklin Boulevard and had an enforcement stop. He identified the defendant in court.

Next, Havlick called Investigator Kari Lane, who took a victim’s statement, recounting the incident. Lane also confirmed that there was no car damage. Her partner’s determined the owner of the green Lexus and after the fact it was determined to be the defendant’s brother. She connected the car to the defendant after he was located.

In taking his statement, Lane noted that the defendant admitted to a “…road rage altercation…but denied there was a shooting.” After searching the green Lexus, Lane obtained two nine millimeter casings on the passenger floorboard underneath the front seat.

The day of the shooting, she also obtained a phone. On the backdrop of the phone, she noted a picture of Jones with a protruding object in the pocket that was consistent with a firearm. She searched his Facebook profile and noted multiple pictures with a firearm.

She searched the defendant’s residence and in the south-east room she found an “AR-type pistol” in the closet. She did not find a gun that matched the description of Jones’ gun, but there was gun equipment in the defendant’s room.

In the second statement, Lane noted that the defendant admitted to shooting. The defendant initially stated that shooting occurred when he was moving the firearm. He later stated that he shot out the driver side window with his right hand, with the victim’s car ahead of his vehicle and did not know where he shot at.

The gun used matched the one’s from the photo, Lane described it as an unserialized, “ghost” gun. The defendant admitted to disposing of the firearm about a week later in a river near Folsom.

Lane stated that the defendant’s story changed multiple times. Initially, he stated that the victim’s car was on the side and later said the gun fired because the car had “brake checked” him. At some point, he admitted the victim’s car was to the side of his when it was fired. He never admitted to intentionally firing at the victim.

Lane noted that the defendant did not say why there were two casings in the car, despite firing once.

There was a discussion on whether or not the actual shooting on the gun was accidental. Law enforcement asked if Jones would be willing to write apology letters.

According to Lane, the defendant stated his intention was not to hurt her, that it was a rash decision. Defense attorney Templeton stated the main letter included that “…he never even did try to hurt her.” This letter was not given to the victim.

Later in his questioning, Templeton attempted to clarify the victim’s statement. Lane noted that at the time of the shooting, the defendant’s car was to the right rear of the victim’s car. Lane did not clarify the angle of the gun, but that the gun was pointed at the victim.

Templeton stated that after reviewing the audio, he determined she did not state the direction of the gun. Lane stated that the victim showed her the direction of the gun and not on the audio.

In redirect, DDA Havlick clarified the direction of the gun and it was pointing at the victim’s vehicle. Investigator Lane also confirmed that he did not refer to an accidental shooting after shooting out the driver side window or in the letters.

With questioning by the judge, Lane said the defendant gave different stories about the incident and did not admit the shot outside the driver side window was intentional or accidental.

Next, Templeton called the defendant’s friend and front seat passenger. After an objection for speculation, Trevino confirmed that the victim attempted to “break check” the defendant and “antagonize him” in an argument. He noted the defendant responded angrily.

The witness was not aware that there was a gun in the car and was “surprised” and unhappy by it. He stated that the defendant shot the gun out the sunroof once. With the escalation of the situation, he stated that the shooting happened and that he “…did not see the gun after that.”

He stated that the gun was out the sunroof, but not how much of his arm was. He stated it was seat belted and that movement was limited due to it being on the highway.

At one point, he confirmed that the gun was pointed up and responded that it was illogical for it to be at a different angle. He did not notice a casing after the shot. After the shot, he stated that he was dropped off at his house, they ate, and the defendant left for home.

The witness stated he did not go to the police with this information and that he did not want to get his friend in trouble. He stated that they never discussed this incident after the fact, but that the defendant knew Trevino was disappointed. He stated that he was using his phone, but was aware of what the victim was doing.

In questions about the gun, he stated he had not seen the defendant with the gun before. Havlick asked if the defendant fired the trigger “intentionally” and the witness confirmed that.

After a question from Templeton, the witness stated he was involved with the case to help his friend by getting the truth out. He admitted the knowledge of committing a crime. He stated he told the truth of where the gun was aimed. There was a discussion about the location of the sunroof.

The last witness confirmed that they were at a friend’s house prior to the incident. She also stated she was on her phone and was not fully aware of the location at the time. She did not know he had a gun. She stated that the victim was in front of them at that time of the shooting.

She confirmed that he did not shoot at the victim and that she had a “clear view” in front of her. Referring to the location of the gun, she said “…it was to about his like wrist part that could have been out the window…not more than his arm out the window.”

She stated she saw the gun when Jones put it out of the sunroof, but “…not as he fired it…” She stated it was “physically” not likely that the gun was angled at the victim.

She was upset at the incident and she did not call the police. She did not want to become involved, but did so to tell the truth and that he never pointed the gun at the victim.

In his argument, defense counsel Templeton submitted on the PC section 246.3, but “…not to answer on the 245(b)…” due to an issue concerning the direction of the gun. He stated that they should look into the actions of Jones and the victim.

He also referred to casings found within the car and that the court should use its common experience in the ejection of casings. He proceeded to explain how the casings could have been ejected into the car. He noted that the last two witnesses were “fairly credible” and that they admitted to a felony.

In her argument, DDA Havlick stated that there was no expert testimony on the ejection of casings and that the casings may not be from the incident. She noted the victims perspective of the incident to be credible also based on the investigator’s testimony.

She stated that the last two witnesses’ were not as credible. She stated at this stage that there was enough evidence to hold him on a 245(b and noted Jones’ admission of pointing the gun out of the window.

Judge Currier stated that the court did not find the passenger witnesses credible and stated that the one thing that was consistent was that they did not see the gun when it was fired. Despite the court having experience, he said as a “lay person” he did not have enough information on the conditions with the shell casings.

Currier referred to the victim’s statement and the relevance of that. In “…using the standard of probable cause…” and “…the People have met their burden…” He suggested that they should attempt to reach a resolution and that they need to assess the level of criminal liability.

The judge determined that he would hold the defendant to answer at trial on both counts with “sufficient evidence.”

Ramneet Singh is a third-year student at the University of California, Davis. He is a Political Science major and is pursuing a History minor. He is from Livingston California.

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