By Esme Lipton
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Three police officers testified, and a surveillance video was shown at a preliminary hearing for defendant Charles Andrews this past week in San Francisco County Superior Court, Dept. 20.
Andrews is being charged with second-degree burglary for allegedly breaking into a MetroPCS store and a Boost Mobile store between May and June 2021. The defendant already has two felony charges. He is currently represented by Public Defender Sylvia Cediel.
The first witness called to the stand was Officer Joseph Dal Porto, who responded to the reported burglary at the MetroPCS store. Upon arrival, Dal Porto claimed, “The glass on the front door was shattered and the metal security gate had been pried open.”
When asked if the store was open, he responded, “No one was inside, the store was closed, no lights were on.”
The prosecution then turned the court’s attention to a 10-minute video surveillance clip captured by the MetroPCS security cameras that depicts a man, suspected as Andrews, sliding underneath a metal gate which stood in front of the store’s entrance.
“[The owner] told you he didn’t see what happened? Just that there was shattered glass?” PD Cediel asked the witness. “Yes,” Dal Porto responded.
Dal Porto claimed he was not provided with an official itemized list of all the stolen products, although he was told that the theft mainly consisted of chargers, speakers, and headphones. Officer Dal Porto was then able to obtain the security footage from the owner, but he didn’t have any further involvement with the case.
The prosecution then called Sergeant Victor Hui to the stand, a burglary investigator for the SFPD, and presented him with five photographs of the Boost Mobile store that had been broken into on June 1. While describing the break-in, Hui claimed: “The window stripping was removed, and a metal mesh that reinforces the glass was bent.”
Hui compared the surveillance footage from a previous break-in at the same store from May 29, a few days prior, and “noticed many similarities about the suspect” in both cases.
“His pants looked the same, he had the same shoe design, and he had a blemish under his left eye,” stated the sergeant. However, Hui claimed he never actually made any physical contact with the suspect.
According to the sergeant, the store’s owner estimated $1,019 in stolen items, mainly consisting of Bluetooth speakers. Once asked if he could identify the suspect, Hui pointed to defendant Andrews.
PD Cediel proceeded to ask the witness, “When you were determining if the person in these burglaries were the same, you looked at the surveillance footage and arrest photos?” The defense continued, “and you made judgments [about the suspect’s identity] from photos of Andrews, […] you never saw him in person?”
“Correct,” responded the sergeant to both questions.
The prosecution then called on a third witness to testify: San Francisco police Officer William Palladino who took part in the MetroPCS store investigation on May 29. Palladino allegedly identified Andrews from two emails he received containing images of the suspect outside of the MetroPCS store.
Palladino has looked into multiple arrests involving Andrews in the past, claiming he’s made physical contact with the defendant “approximately 10 times over the course of five to six years.”
Ultimately, Judge Linda Colfax determined there was enough evidence for the defendant to be held for trial. Andrews must appear for arraignment on July 27 in Department 22 at 9 a.m.