By Anika Khubchandani
WOODLAND, CA – Earlier this year, on Jan. 6, a man entered a laundromat in Woodland at precisely 7 a.m. And, within minutes of the business opening for the day, the laundromat owner received a call from her alarm system company, indicating that a break-in to her office had just occurred.
The defendant, Scott Ray Talley, is alleged to be that man who entered the laundry early last January. He is charged with vandalism and burglary of the laundromat as the jury here in Yolo County Superior Court learned this week.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman called upon the owner of the laundromat as the first witness in this trial. Assisted by a Spanish interpreter, the witness shared that she has owned her laundromat called Launderworld for more than 25 years.
She said, “The doors are synced up to a clock” which allows the laundromat to open automatically at 7 a.m. sharp every day. Since the business opens by itself automatically, the owner is not always at the laundromat at the start of the day—she typically arrives later in the morning to begin her work day.
“When I arrive, I open the office,” the witness explained. “No customers can come into the office.”
Her office door is constructed as a “Dutch door,” allowing the top half to open while the bottom half remains closed. “It’s divided in two to avoid kids entering and grabbing things like the soap,” the witness reveals. The door also allows easy access for customers to “come up to the door and ask me for what they need” such as detergent and change in coins to work the laundry machines, she explained.
Typically, when the witness opens her office she hears a “‘tick-tick-tick’ sound for one minute and then a bell rings and calls the security department.” Then, the security department calls the witness “saying that the door has been activated.”
But, on the morning of Jan. 6, the witness received a call from her alarm system company despite her not yet being at her business.
The witness reviewed security camera footage, and in the video, she saw that someone she identified as Talley kicked in her office door and then “ducked down to go inside” her office. “The lock was not working and the door frame was broken. It was forced open,” said the witness.
Deputy District Attorney Vroman showed the court several videos of the security camera footage. In one clip, he highlighted that Talley “took a basket of items which looked like clothes.” The witness elaborates further and tells the court that Talley took “the clothes from a client” who was a “young man.”
Since the customer had left his clothes in one of the drying machines, the witness took the initiative to gather the clothes from the dryer and fold them. “I left [the basket of clothes] there outside because usually when [customers] forget they come over the next day and it’s ready for them to take it.”
During the cross-examination of the first witness, Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez discovered that the laundromat owner is not technically liable for the lost clothes. “I have not paid that person because I am not responsible,” shared the witness. He clarified to the jury that theft of the laundry basket with clothes is not one of the defendant’s charges.
The second witness called to testify was Woodland Police Officer Marcus Hernandez, who took cellphone pictures of the door and shared that “it appears that the door frame is completely damaged and broken and that it is unable to maintain the door closed.”
He also reviewed the security camera footage and saw that Talley “had what appeared to be a set of keys” he got from the office and was “going through the rest of the laundromat (to look for) the cash or change machines” to steal.
The officer was also able to identify a vehicle that “the person who kicked in the door frame had left on the premises” of the laundromat in. By running the license plate, Hernandez obtained information that the car was in a different location in a residential area. He then drove there to interview Talley before arresting him.
After being asked a series of questions by officer Hernandez, Talley denied taking money from the laundromat, noting, “I did not take no nothing. I wasn’t trying to get no machine or nothing like that. However, he acknowledged the damaged door.