By Gabriel Eskandari
SACRAMENTO, CA – During a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Sacramento County Superior Court for Jose Rivera, a man facing battery, weapon brandishing and criminal threat charges, Judge Kevin R. Culhane found there was enough evidence to hold a trial despite the defense claim that the prosecution didn’t meet its burden of proving the identity of the suspect.
The incident took place on Jan. 28, at a Sacramento Safeway parking lot.
Deputy District Attorney Douglas Caballeros called Detective Sara Dorsey, who said Rivera is accused of repeatedly punching a man in the face who was sitting in his vehicle, breaking the vehicle’s window, threatening to kill him and his father, and brandishing a handgun.
Detective Dorsey stated that the alleged victim identified Rivera by a photo she sent him on Sept. 27. She said that was the first time she’d asked the victim to identify the suspect by photo, and that the victim had only identified him by name prior to that.
Assistant Public Defender David Krypel, representing Rivera, inquired about police department regulations regarding photographic identification.
Detective Dorsey explained that when a subject has been identified by name, they are allowed to send a picture of that person to verify. If the subject is unknown, then they send a six-pack of pictures, one with a possible suspect and five with filler photographs of people who hold a similar description.
PD Krypel asked Detective Dorsey why she didn’t send a photographic lineup in this instance, and Dorsey stated this was because the victim had already identified the suspect by name and that the suspect had been identified by a second victim, Rivera’s ex-wife.
After further questioning, Dorsey admitted the ex-wife did not witness the alleged crime. The defense inquired how his ex-wife could be used to identify a suspect if she did not witness the crime.
The detective said that she is simply going off of the report made by the arresting officer, which has the ex-wife listed as a victim due to the violation of a restraining order and had her identifying the subject in this case as her ex-husband.
PD Krypel argued that the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proving identity because there were no eyewitnesses to identify the client in a lineup, and because his ex-wife identified him as the attacker but didn’t witness the attack.
The public defender also noted the detective “did not follow proper police regulations and just sent the witness, approximately eight months later, one and only photograph of my client and used that as a basis for then deciding who the suspect was in this case.”
DDA Caballeros responded by saying that he does not believe identification is an issue in this case because the victim is friends with Rivera’s ex-wife and thus knew Rivera.
Caballeros also stated that the detective did follow protocol by sending just one picture because Rivera had already been identified by name, and that a six-pack photo lineup would only be needed if the victim said he had no idea who punched him.
Ultimately, Judge Culhane stated that there was sufficient evidence that the crimes charged have been committed despite the defense’s argument, making way for a trial.
“This gentleman identified from one picture, half a picture, 10 pictures, that has to be evaluated by a trier of fact down the way (the jury). I appreciate the argument…it’s just that I can’t pull the plug on cases when we’ve got an evidentiary dispute, one way or the other,” Judge Culhane stated.
Rivera pleaded not guilty to the allegations, and the trial is set for Nov. 11 at 8:45 a.m.