By Marilin Ayon
RIVERSIDE, CA— During a preliminary hearing here in Riverside County Superior Court Wednesday, a deputy testified that an inmate that resisted getting off a transportation bus upon its arrival at a detention center, allegedly yelled the phrase “25er for life,” affiliating himself to the 25 prison gang – and spit toward other inmates.
According to the testimony, the deputy, who was driving the bus on the day of the incident— July 17, 2017— defendant Joshua Robert Stevens refused to follow his orders to exit the transportation bus once they had arrived at the Robert Presley Detention Center.
Stevens, who is identified as a protected custody inmate, which is a type of imprisonment for those who fear for the safety of their lives outside of prison, was allegedly having a verbal conversation with a general population inmate on the bus when things escalated.
Upon their arrival, the officer, following protocol to get the inmates off the bus, asked everyone to remain calm and seated. At this point, he noticed the defendant facing the general population inmates from his seat.
Despite being told to sit down, the defendant ignored orders and prepared to spit. The witness stated that Stevens’ spit hit a few inmates “in their face and on their [undetected word] uniform.”
The officer “asked him [Stevens] to step off the bus, and he continued to yell and when he prepared the spit, that’s when I opened the cage and pulled him off the bus.”
According to the witness’ direct examination led by Deputy District Attorney Nicholas John Kliebert, Stevens yelled the phrase ‘25er for life’ “several times… in the bus, even once we got outside on the curve section.”
The prosecution also brought in a Deputy Sheriff with knowledge on the 25 Gang, which is composed of inmates who have dropped out of another gang.
These, said the witness, are ex-gang members “are brothers, they are together to protect each other, they are in fear for their safety so… they will basically combine together as one so they can help each other protect themselves.”
The witness stated that once an inmate becomes a PC, they are in constant threat. This is because once they drop out of a gang, they are not able to peacefully interact among general population inmates.
When asked “how do they [25 gang members] gain respect during custody?” by DDA Kliebert, the witness stated they did so “by instilling fear in others, promoting their gang… yelling 25 letting people know…”
This declaration was used as a foundation to explain why Stevens would initiate a confrontation with other inmates on the bus. Based on the witness’s experience with 25ers, he was able to identify the defendant as an active gang member because he had a “25 [tattooed] on the right lower rib.”
Therefore, this, the deputy said, constitutes the defendant as a 25er who was trying to gain respect by instilling fear onto others and “showing they are not willing not to even comply with law enforcement.”
During cross-examination, the defendant’s attorney, Michelle Kelly Anderson, tried to protect her client by reiterating that 25ers try “to instill fear to protect themselves… because they are the ones who are actually in danger of violent assault.”
Honorable Judge Samuel Diaz ruled that there was enough evidence against the defendant to move forward with a trial. Arraignment is Aug. 25 at 8:30 a.m. in Dept. 41 at Riverside County Superior Court.