By Natasha Pawar
SACRAMENTO, CA – Three individuals—John Defeher, Karen Hughes and Randy Webb—will all stand trial for burglary, selling a stolen vehicle, possession of controlled substances and firearms after their preliminary hearing late last week in Sacramento County Superior Court.
They are accused of crimes against someone apparently now in county jail, allegedly for murder.
Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jack consolidated the felony and misdemeanor complaints for all three defendants, so 11 separate counts now pertain to each of the accused.
The incident took place between Dec. 1 to 3 of 2020, when the burglary occurred at the home of a person currently in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail for shooting and murdering her boyfriend.
The first witness, Deputy Julian Gaytan, said that when he arrived at the scene of the robbery three people were already present at the residence—the victim’s brother, her aunt and a private investigator.
In doing a preliminary search of the house, the deputy observed that “the bedrooms around the residence were ransacked, the garage door was left open, the backyard door was open and a car and two motorcycle engines were missing.”
The defense counsel, in their cross-examination, asked questions about the reason for the other people being there along with any knowledge he had about the condition of the house prior to the alleged robbery.
Deputy Gaytan stated that the brother had arrived upon the request of the aunt, who was there to feed the chickens in the backyard. The private investigator was called by the family.
The defense asked about the doors to the home, because the aunt had been present at the scene the night before and had seen to it that all doors were securely shut.
There were further questions raised with the aunt’s potential involvement or knowledge of the robbery. She was in charge of the chickens in the home, and thus had access to the house, until her niece was out of custody.
The only traceable evidence found at the scene was a pillow with a footprint. There were no fingerprints or marks of any other kind found.
The second witness called was Deputy Olivia Turner, who was dispatched to follow, on foot, a suspect who was found fleeing the scene. The suspect was a bald male who was “running from the residence with a black and beige purse.”
Upon detaining the suspect, Deputy Turner identified him as defendant John Defeher. The purse contained a firearm with loaded ammunition, as well as stolen identification cards.
The defense questioned the deputy with questions pertaining to visibility of the suspect, the firearm found and the purse located.
The third witness called was Deputy Kera Collins, who was dispatched to follow a stolen vehicle, driven by another male suspect. Deputy Collins followed him over a couple streets, issuing multiple commands to stop and making her presence clear, to no avail.
The car with the suspect drove into a residential area and the suspect ran out of the car with a purse, making the deputy follow on foot. He hid in a bush between two apartment buildings in the residential complex and was located due to a silver handgun peeking out of his hiding spot.
The suspect was in possession of a handgun with six rounds of ammunition as well as what was tested presumptive positive to be methamphetamine and heroin. Deputy Collins also found a taser, a portable scale, and a cell phone with the suspect who was identified to be defendant Randy Webb.
The deputy also shed light on the value of the stolen car, approximately a minimum of $14,000 and maximum of $28,000, as found in Kelley Blue Book.
Attorney Virata, representing Karen Hughes, raised many objections throughout the initial examination, most of which were overruled by the court.
The last witness called was Detective Christopher Robertson, who was in charge of the investigation. He testified to the stolen goods and materials, as well as the timeline of the events.
The detective collected surveillance footage of the neighborhood as well as spoke with neighbors near the scene to identify the two male suspects. He also discovered the purses found by the deputies with seemingly stolen cred cards could be traced to various locations in the last 24 hours.
Upon further analysis, he found that Hughes had allegedly used both cards at a Panda Express and Home Depot store around the area and could identify her on the surveillance camera.
Texts on the phone had references to “splitting money, involvement of someone’s wife, and liq, a commonly used term referring to a robbery.”
After all three defendants were detained and in custody, the detective also went in and listened to recorded calls between Hughes and a female who spoke to “JD” and someone else breaking into Hughes’ room and how JD owed her money.
At this, attorney Philip Cozen, representing Defeher, objected to the witness’ statement being allegations towards and evidence for one specific defendant and thus being inapplicable to all the defendants in the case.
DDA Brandon Jack was adamant case law portrayed that in consolidated cases, any evidence against one defendant is applicable to all. This caused some passionate back and forth between the council, which led to Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang going off the record with the defense counsel.