By Karisa Cortez
ALAMEDA, CA – The judge in a violent felony case here last Friday in Alameda County Superior Court didn’t release a defendant, but lowered bail from $60,000 to $50,000 after Deputy Public Defender Michael Wasserman asked the judge for the defendant, John Horcasitas, to be released from custody.
DPD Wasserman began by entering a plea of not guilty on behalf of Horcasitas. He also asked for the judge to release the defendant out of custody.
The conflict began at a laundromat, said Wasserman, adding “Mr. Horcasitas was in conflict with two different people. The first one saw him in front of the laundromat and pulled out two knives. That person was later contacted and found with two knives.”
Wasserman added Horcasitas complied with the officers when he was contacted by them. He continued by adding that the officers saw this incident as negligent and proceeded to interview the defendant.
“Outside of this incident, Mr. Horcasitas is a local resident. He has actually returned to the Bay Area to take care of his elderly father who is at an assisted living home,” Wasserman said, adding the defendant is a member of the Teamsters Union and is one year away from pension.
Wasserman also noted that the defendant is paying rent at a local apartment and reiterates that he has “…no background that would indicate violence or danger to the community.”
The defense attorney asked for the court to release his defendant on certain conditions which included: no contact with the complaining witnesses (which he believed there would be no issue for the defendant), not to go to that laundromat/parking lot, and not to possess any weapons.
He also stated that the defendant does not have any weapons now and has been a responsible weapon owner. Wasserman believes that the defendant is not a flight risk and does not pose a danger to the community.
However, Deputy District Attorney Brooke Perkins had a different story.
Perkins agreed that the defendant does not pose a flight risk, but argued that Horcasitas does pose a danger to the community because of the crime allegedly committed.
“It’s clear that he has, at least in this instance, an issue with anger and making very dangerous decisions and not taking into account the consequences of those decisions…It is clear there was an altercation between the defendant and an original male who did have, it appears, a knife, and an unknown suspect attempted to end that confrontation which caused a new confrontation with the defendant,” the DDA said.
The unknown male chased Horcasitas but did not have any weapons. The chase ended with the defendant pulling out a gun and firing three shots. DDA Perkins added that it wasn’t just the shooting, but where the shooting took place—a crowded strip mall.
Horcasitas opened fire at the mall and almost injured and killed people in the area, she claimed, adding that one witness was a woman with her children. When the witness confronted the defendant about almost shooting her children, she said he replied with, “They didn’t die, nothing happened.”
The defense attorney stated that Horcasitas tried to end the conflict with a tire bat/knocker before opening fire. He also stated that the defendant complied with the police and was on his way to contact them about the incident.
In the end the judge changed bail from $60,000 to $50,000 and ordered that he stay away and has no contact with the complaining witness, as well as not own, use or possess any weapons.
He believed the defendant poses a risk to public safety and the pretrial date was set for July 13.