By Stephanie Boulos
SACRAMENTO, CA- After their unusual request to have their trial proceedings made unavailable to the public was denied, co-defendants Jason Ruiz and Robert Morales entered not guilty pleas to charges involving a shooting incident earlier this year.
As noted Tuesday in Sacramento County Superior Court, a five-count felony complaint filed on May 18 of this year, reviewed by Judge Tami Bogert, charges defendant Ruiz with three felony counts for committing assault with a loaded, and unregistered, semi-automatic firearm against two victims.
Co-defendant Morales is also being charged with a felony and a misdemeanor, for being an accessory after the fact in the incident and unlawfully possessing marijuana.
The pretrial started with Assistant Public Defender Larry Yee objecting and requesting that the proceedings Tuesday and in the future, in regards to this case, be closed to the public, whether online or physically in the courtroom.
The PD made this request in an effort to prevent any potential witnesses from watching the proceedings of the trial, which could affect the results of their testimony.
However, Judge Bogert denied this request in an effort to protect the public’s right to access, and instead, provided an admonishment online to any potential witnesses, saying they are not permitted to view this live stream.
Deputy District Attorney Douglas Caballeros called Det. Kyle Roberts of the Sacramento Police Dept. to testify. The detective alleged that Ruiz, on May 18, shot two victims, one in the abdominal area and another in the leg. after an argument with the two victims ensued in the backyard of the defendants’ and victims’ shared property.
According to the victims’ testimony, both co-defendants and the victims were in the backyard when an argument ensued, said the officer.
Soon after the argument began, it was alleged Ruiz took out his firearm and shot both victims, one in the stomach and one in the leg. Ruiz left the property with the co-defendant Morales, who drove the vehicle away.
Two used casings for a 9mm firearm were found at the scene, along with a round of live ammunition, said the officer.
Deputy D. Montoya testified they contacted Morales several days after the shooting, covertly tracking him all morning, and detained him, after which Montoya searched his vehicle and found 103 grams of marijuana, 3,000 in cash, and a scale.
However, through the cross-examination led by PD Yee, there was some confusion over how both victims were able to see the co-defendants even drive away, if one was fatally shot and the other shot and on the ground.
Judge Bogert concluded the pretrial by saying there is sufficient cause to believe that all five counts have been committed by each codefendant respectively, with both held in custody with no bail.
The matter will be heard again on Sept. 20 for trial at 8:45 p.m. in Dept. 14.