By Angie Madrid
RIVERSIDE, CA — Witnesses were called to testify Wednesday here in Riverside County Superior Court in the ongoing trial of Clyde Robert Johnson, who is being charged for inflicting corporal injury on his wife after multiple disputes.
Defendant Johnson was arrested on Feb. 17, 2020 outside the victim’s home, after complaints of domestic violence.
Public Defender Jeff Hurwitz called upon Johnson’s coworker to testify, and one said they had seen an argument between the victim and defendant outside their work site, one year prior to the alleged court-related incident.
The witness explained that Johnson’s wife arrived at their job, seemingly angry and frustrated, and start yelling at Johnson. “She was aggressive and yelling more. You could hear the yelling. He was more trying to calm down the situation because it was at work,” stated the witness.
The witness added this incident occurred a second time with Johnson’s wife yelling at Johnson inside their car while he was on break.
After Hurwitz’s questioning, Deputy District Attorney Sam Taloa began his cross-examination of the witness.
Throughout DDA Taloa’s questioning of the witness, PD Hurwitz made various objections, noting witness speculation.
“Would you agree with me that it would be helpful to the jury to evaluate your demeanor if they saw you when you gave your initial statement,” questioned DDA Taloa. Hurwitz immediately objected, which the judge sustained.
DDA Taloa asked the witness another question, but the witness began to respond dismissively. “Do you understand that evaluating someone’s demeanor would be helpful in determining if they were being truthful or not, correct?” questioned Taloa.
The witness responded, stating, “It would be helpful for some people.” Seemingly confused, Taloa asked, “For what people would it not be helpful for?”
“I don’t know. For you,” stated the witness boldly. After the witness’s rebuttal, DDA Taloa questioned whether the witness was aggravated to which the witness responded he was not.
Judge Dale Wells interrupted, asking DDA Taloa to stop his line of questioning as he deemed it improper. Taloa continued and attempted to change his line of questioning by asking the witness about his past criminal history.
According to Taloa, the witness had been convicted of theft and burglary seven years ago, which the jury can use when determining the credibility of the witness. Despite Taloa’s probing, the witness defended himself stating, “You asked if I am a thief. I was then but not now, no.”
PD Hurwitz went back to question the witness, asking how old he was when he had committed these past crimes. The witness had been 18 years old and had no other issues with the law since then.
With no further questions, Hurwitz called in his next witness—defendant Johnson’s work supervisor.
Similar to the first witness, Johnson’s supervisor also recalled the incident where Johnson’s wife arrived at their job to argue with the defendant. He recalled seeing them argue outside their car, and the conflict being loud with the occasional use of curse words.
“She said, ‘You think this is over, it’s not. I’m going to send your ass back to jail,’” explained the second witness.
DDA Taloa began his cross examination of the witness, asking, “Did you believe [the victim] wanted to set up the defendant?”
The witness stated he did not know where the victim’s mindset was at, but he did think it was possible that the victim was going to “set up” the defendant, adding how he did not feel compelled to go to the police over the incident since it was a personal matter between Johnson and his wife.
Taloa questioned the witness of his past convictions to which the witness, seemingly bothered, asked, “Am I on trial?”
After being told the district attorney was legally allowed to ask these questions, the witness confirmed he had been convicted of car theft, residential burglary, and other thefts within Los Angeles County.
As the questioning continued, Taloa asked if the witness was biased in favor of Johnson due to their working relationship. The witness confidently stated he was not as they only had a working relationship, and they were not friends.
After Taloa’s cross-examination, PD Hurwitz reverted to Taloa’s mention of the witness’s past convictions by asking the witness when his convictions had occurred, which the witness explained had happened over 26 years ago.
DDA Taloa called the last witness of the day, Officer Markell, who was the primary officer on scene the day of Johnson’s arrest. The body cam footage from Markell was presented in which Johnson claimed he did not have a gun—which was believed Johnson possessed the day of the incident.
After presenting the footage, DDA Taloa went back to question Markell. He asked Markell what the victim had told him when she was interrogated the day of the incident.
“She stated that he had threatened her and said, ‘I’m going to kill you and commit murder-suicide tonight.’” explained Officer Markell.