By Michael Wheeler
WOODLAND—Defendant Robert Husted’s intellectual disabilities did not prevent Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Reed this week from holding Husted to account for stalking his grandfather’s roommate, but the judge expressed a willingness to review his position should Husted follow a care plan.
Although Husted’s grandfather offered testimony in his support, the defendant’s repeated knowing violations of a restraining order taken out against him by the alleged victim, as well as a pattern of not showing up to court dates, ultimately outweighed other considerations for Judge Reed.
The parties will return to Dept. 7 for Husted’s arraignment on July 28 during the morning session.
Officer Keither Alvord responded to multiple disturbances at the West Sacramento trailer home of Husted’s grandfather, in August 2020 and January 2021. During both responses, Husted was present outside of the home while the victim, the roommate who had previously taken out a restraining order, was inside.
The grandfather testified that he frequently gave Husted money for various things, which largely accounted for the numerous visits that Husted made to the home. He did so “about two times a week. It all depends on what his needs are.”
However, Alvord stated that Husted told him that he “knows he’s not supposed to be at the trailer when she’s home or be around her, and that he regularly does so anyways.”
Moreover, nothing in the restraining order allows for Husted to get things he needs when the roommate is present at the home.
Under questioning from Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt, the grandfather told the court that the relationship between Husted and the victim was “terrible. They don’t get along.”
However, he could not directly speak to a physical conflict between the two, although he admitted verbal disagreements had been longstanding. “I’ve never seen him threaten her,” he said. “On the phone I guess he does.”
The grandfather also informed the court that Husted did not express his anger physically or through violence. Instead, yelling is “his way of showing he’s really mad. He don’t hit people or hurt ‘em, he cusses like you’d never believe and that’s when you know he’s up to here.”
Previous evidence provided by the victim contradicted that assertion. The victim provided the court with evidence that Husted had assaulted her and had made credible threats to do so, and that he had “told her he would beat her with a baseball bat.”
Furthermore, Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian stated, “She had 46 voicemails from the defendant from April 27 of 2020 through May 5, some of which were threats to beat her or commit great bodily injury to her.”
Despite disavowing any knowledge of possible threats made by Husted against the victim, the grandfather did detail the way in which the frequent arguments between Husted and the victim would escalate.
“At first she’s really calm and cool,” he said. “Then she starts getting mad. Of course, he gets mad because she’s getting mad.”
He also told the court that he had difficulty making Husted follow rules, due to his mild intellectual disabilities and illiteracy. “He don’t read or write, so it’s kinda hard sometimes to make him understand whatever I’m talking about, you know, that he has to follow.”
During closing arguments, Van Zandt insisted that “it’s a tone deaf prosecution.” Because of the mutual dislike between Husted and the victim, as well as a possible romantic relationship between the grandfather and the victim, “in no way is this a felony case.”
Instead, he argued that Judge Reed should reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor and that Husted should not be held in jail to await his next court date.
DDA Kian strongly disagreed with Van Zandt’s argument.
“It has gotten to the point where it is more than just a violation of restraining order, but now he’s come to harass her in a manner consistent with stalking. We’ve heard there is no business relationship with the victim, he is just upset with her for a variety of reasons and he is just retaliating,” said Kian.
He also strongly asserted that the felony stalking charge should not be reduced to a misdemeanor, arguing, “What message are we going to send if we have this case reduced?” Instead, he told the judge he believed Husted would simply continue to violate the restraining order.
“Does that mean that we have to throw the book? No. There are other means in place. But we have to keep some level of measures in place to protect the victim,” added the DDA.
Judge Reed ordered Husted held to account for the felony stalking charge and contempt of court for failing multiple times to appear in court.
Were Husted to make an effort to avoid the victim and appear in court, however, the judge stated he “would be inclined” to make the stalking charge a misdemeanor.
Because of Husted’s history of failing to appear in court, he also ordered Husted to be held in jail while awaiting his next court date, to which Van Zandt strongly objected.
“I think this case, to keep Mr. Husted in custody on a felony is offensive. Given his mental disabilities, he’s in custody, he does not harm the public, he’s not a threat to society. He may not be the best bet on showing up to court given his record, but I think he’s getting more attention now” from the public defender’s office and from mental health agencies, said Van Zandt.
DDA Kian disagreed, arguing Husted posed both a flight and public safety risk. However, he conceded that “should he take responsibility for his actions and with a plan in place that’s a different story.”