By Alex Jimenez
ALAMEDA, CA – A hearing here late last week in Alameda County Superior Court for a burglary suspect appeared to go in her favor, until a last minute outburst led the judge to reevaluate his assessment on the case and send her into custody.
Defendant Sanovia Powell had previously been arrested on residential burglary charges, but was released from Santa Rita Jail per COVID guidelines. It had appeared that, as a condition, a stay away order from the address was issued where the victim and Powell lived in the same apartment complex.
Powell once again entered the same apartment uninvited and was arrested, prompting the current hearing.
Powell’s original public defender, Amy Cheng, was unavailable for this hearing due to miscommunication. PD Stephanie Clark, who was filling in, asked the courts to keep Powell out of custody until Cheng is able to return in a week or two.
Deputy District attorney Andrew Ross, looking at the facts, requested that Powell be remanded into custody.
After some discussion regarding the specific wording of the order and what contingency was violated, Clark pointed out that “this new offense or allegation is not being described as a burglary.” Clark, advocating for Powell, pointed out the previous judge viewed the facts of the case and felt comfortable releasing Powell.
“This victim with this defendant out of custody has been subject to intrusion by the same person charged with same crimes and given the opportunity to show the courts that she can remain free from new arrests and can be law abiding,” said DDA Ross as he argued that Powell could not be trusted to comply with court orders, posing a risk to the victim.
Clark once again insisted that the courts hold off until Cheng returns, who may have had more information about both the case and Powell, while, in this hearing, both counsels appeared to have limited knowledge on the matter.
Judge Morris Jacobson opted not to remand Powell, primarily because Cheng was not present.
Judge Jacobson said, “What gives me concern but also makes me appreciate the fact that she’s here, she seems to be in a somewhat agitated state.” He said that gave him concerns for the victim, but also reflects the difficulty and effort that Powell has made to get to court.
At this point the judge agreed to put the matter over until Tuesday without any official court decisions.
However, the judge had muted himself for several minutes. The judge came back to reveal that Powell will be remanded into custody, which surprised DDA Ross.
Powell had come back to court “very agitated,” and refused to come to court on Tuesday. Screaming could be heard through the audio, and it was indeed Powell who appeared to be having a major breakdown.
“Based on what I was seeing here I have no confidence that she was going to stay away from the victim,” said the judge. Pretrial services were revoked and a $10,000 bail was issued.
More agonizing screams could be heard, at which point a court employee asked for a medic.
Powell is still set to return to court on Tuesday.