By Samuel Van Blaricom
SACRAMENTO, CA – A felony robbery charge was dropped against Shulandra Sterling-Gee after a preliminary hearing on Monday here in Sacramento County Superior Court, although the prosecution promised to refile it as a misdemeanor and the accused faces five other charges in other cases.
Judge Geoffrey Goodman determined that, after a review of the evidence, there was not enough to proceed as a felony because the evidence was too thin to show a threat of violence.
Officer Brian Russell provided testimony in the hearing that Sterling-Gee and two others walked into J.D.’s Smoke Shop on June 4, 2020, and stole six smoking pipes. The owner allegedly recognized Sterling-Gee from previous incidents, and called the police when she walked in.
“She (the victim) observed them take property from the store shelves and leave without paying,” said the officer, who reported the owner claimed she “yelled at the three of them to stop and one yelled back, ‘I’m gonna break this on your face.’”
He later added that the Sterling-Gee “was holding [a smoking pipe] up when she yelled at her.”
However, according to surveillance footage shown to help establish the context of the interaction, there were no visible motions that could be interpreted as a violent act or that corroborated the owner’s testimony about Sterling-Gee raising her arm with the pipe in a threatening manner.
The cameras did not record audio, so it was unable to verify or disprove the owner’s claim that she was verbally threatened by Sterling-Gee.
Ultimately, Judge Goodman ruled that there was not enough evidence to support going forward with the felony charge, although a case could certainly be made for shoplifting.
“I don’t find that there is sufficient evidence to stand the charge of robbery. It does appear like this was a rather brazen shoplift, but that to my mind is not a felony, so I’m not going to hold her to answer based on the evidence that I heard,” he concluded.
Sterling-Gee is also being charged in five other cases, one of which is a felony charge of possession of stolen property and a misdemeanor charge for possession of methamphetamine.
These cases were continued to allow for lab results to come back regarding the chemical make-up of the alleged substance. She is being represented in all of these by Attorney John Casey, III.
Deputy District Attorney Adriana Garcia said that her office will be refiling the robbery charge, and that they can hold the next hearing in this case on Nov. 15, along with other outstanding cases.