By Stephanie Boulos
SACRAMENTO, CA – Matthew Watt was in luck Tuesday when the presiding judge at his preliminary hearing here in Sacramento County Superior Court agreed to reduce his felony charge to a misdemeanor.
The young defendant, 22, informed the court of his desire to join the military and even one day become a doctor. He allegedly attempted to break into a liquor store in the middle of the night earlier this year in March.
Watt, along with an unknown second perpetrator, allegedly threw something at several glass windows of the liquor store in an attempt to break in when a security guard witnessed the entire interaction and followed them as they fled the scene.
Watt ran for several blocks before police officers, who were alerted by the security guard and the triggered alarm system, detained him.
However, the security guard that witnessed the break-in identified the defendant as one of the perpetrators, and District Attorney legal intern Adrienne Black raised the point that the defendant was dressed in all black and was fleeing the scene at 3 a.m.
The felony charge was charged as such because of nearly $8,000 damage from the attempted break-in.
In a request to reduce the defendant’s charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, Assistant Public Defender Mira Lee described to the court how Watt has no prior history, is only 22 years old, and has a strong interest in joining the military and becoming a doctor.
The defendant even provided proof of his enrollment in a neurology online course he was taking from Harvard, further demonstrating his interest in bettering his life.
Judge Emily Vasquez listened to the defendant’s request and agreed to reduce his charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, in a case that has shown sufficient cause to move forward with a jury trial—although judges often say a prelim has a very low bar for a case to be deemed jury trial material.
Defendant Watt’s jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 18.