By Peter Eibert
WOODLAND, CA – The defense and prosecution had a heated exchange over whether to set bail in the case of defendant Johnny Garcia here in Yolo County Superior Court this week – Garcia didn’t make out too well.
Garcia is charged with multiple counts, including felony stalking, felony first degree burglary, misdemeanor vandalism, and misdemeanor contempt of court.
Garcia is accused of violating a previous restraining order to stay away from the alleged victim, his ex-wife, and her home.
The defense and prosecution discussed a multitude of factors on whether or not to set bail and how high to set bail, which included the threat Garcia posed to public safety and whether or not he could potentially pay bail.
Deputy Public Defender Teal Dixon entered a not guilty plea to all the charges on her client’s behalf, and asked the court to consider releasing Garcia on his own recognizance, rather than set bail.
Dixon argued that Garcia’s alleged behavior that resulted in the felony stalking charges should not be considered stalking. She noted “two incidents over the course of basically a weekend with someone with the same last name, who I’m assuming is an ex-wife – I wouldn’t really call that stalking.”
Dixon then contrasted Garcia’s alleged stalking behavior with a more general description of stalking behavior, stating that “Usually there has to be a more sustained, repeated set of incidents. It sounds like there may be… but I’m not sure that’s the strongest stalking case I’ve ever heard.”
Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Carolyn Palumbo vigorously rebutted Dixon’s argument, stating that “What I just heard [from Dixon] is, ‘I don’t know anything about this case, but I don’t believe that’s a stalking charge.’ That makes absolutely no sense.”
Palumbo requested that Garcia not be released on his own recognizance. She proceeded to give the chilling facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history, stating that “There were multiple contacts… The defendant is on probation for domestic violence against his ex-wife.”
Palumbo then adamantly held that “there is definitely enough here to sustain a stalking charge.”
In the alleged stalking events, Garcia allegedly “went over to his ex-wife[‘s home] and scratched the word ‘whore’ and ‘herpes’ on her door and wiggled the door handle, broke into her house, stole her cell phone on a separate occasion, and then started calling and leaving voicemail messages telling her he was going to ‘break her jaw’ if she didn’t open up the door so that she ‘couldn’t suck cock anymore.’”
DDA Palumbo also urged the court to acknowledge the threat Garcia posed to the alleged victim and to the public, citing his major drinking problem, which includes “aggressive and scary” behavior when he drinks.
Garcia is also currently on probation for two DUI’s in Yolo County, and had a third DUI in Sacramento. According to Palumbo, Garcia had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20 percent, she said, in his first drunk driving incident in Yolo County, and a BAC of .32 percent in his second drunk driving incident in Yolo County.
After Palumbo’s damning account of Garcia’s criminal history and the allegations against him, PD Dixon seemed to acquiesce, merely stating that “if the issue is how he [Garcia] behaves when he’s drinking, I think the SCRAM device can address that.” A SCRAM device is an ankle bracelet that tests the wearer’s perspiration for alcohol every 30 minutes.
Judge Tom. M. Dyer then declined to release Garcia on his own recognizance.
However, Dixon didn’t give up completely, attempting to convince Judge Dyer to set bail at a lower amount than was scheduled because of Garcia’s “minimal assets,” which totaled a meager $600.
Palumbo countered by arguing that bail should be set at a high enough amount to make it a challenge for Garcia to post bail for the alleged victim’s safety.
She cited how easy it could be to post bail, as “bail companies accept credit cards… and with bail companies, you only have to post 10 percent [of the total bail amount].”
She further argued that $50,000 bail would not be enough, as Garcia “would only have to post $10,000… which in the grand scheme of the victim’s public safety is not a lot of money, particularly when you can put it on a credit card and make a payment.”
PD Dixon replied that “he [Garcia] does not have a credit card.”
Judge Dyer compromised between Dixon and Palumbo’s positions: he set bail at a relatively high amount out of concern for public safety, but also reduced it from the scheduled bail amounts because of Garcia’s lack of assets and inability to pay for it.
Judge Dyer ultimately set bail at $52,500.