Judge Finds Evidence for One Count Is Based on Unreasonable Inferences Made by Prosecution

By Mary Magana-Ayala 

SACRAMENTO, CA–– Garry Hobbs, charged with two counts of being in possession of stolen property, faced a preliminary hearing Friday at Sacramento County Superior Court where Judge Curtis M. Fiorini found there was insufficient evidence for one count because the evidence was predominantly based on assumption and speculation. 

However, the judge did find reason to hold Hobbs for trial on other charges.

Hobbs was arrested April 10 for allegedly receiving stolen property after a vehicle was reported missing. 

Officer Zachary Yasonia testified that parking control had advised Yasonia that a stolen vehicle was left on the street and that the suspect was loading items into a white Lexus which moved northbound on Arden Way. 

Officer Yasonia stated that the subject attempted to flee on foot after officers pulled the vehicle over, but stopped after Yasonia held him at gunpoint. Officer Yasonia that the subject as Hobbs, who was also accompanied by his girlfriend in the white Lexus. 

When searching the vehicle, Officer Yasonia said there was a lot of clothing, which included price tags, shoe boxes with shoes inside, tools, male toiletries, and three catalytic converters. Officer Yasonia noted one of the three catalytic converters found one had a U-Haul tag which had a warning that if in possession it constituted theft. 

Officer Yasonia stated that one of the shoeboxes had an address to a victim who had had his U-Haul stolen with a value of more than $25,000. The clothing found in the car, included an item exceeding $500 and other shirts with price tags ranging from $5-10. 

Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jack asked Yasonia if he learned the value of replacing the U-Haul catalytic converter and Yasonia responded “A tow truck driver said the replacement was $2,000.”

Officer Yasonia also explained he had some experience with catalytic converter theft, and because the U-Haul catalytic converter in this case was larger he could assume that it was  worth more. 

During the cross-examination, Defense Attorney David Cramer asked if Officer Yasonia had confirmed with U-Haul about the price or investigated if the catalytic converter was stolen and Yasonia replied, “No, sir.”

Cramer also asked, “There was no evidence that the other two catalytic converters were stolen right?” Officer Yasonia replied, “Correct.”

In the closing statements, DDA Jack stated that “there were three catalytic converters, one belonging to U-Haul and also there were other numerous stolen items in the car including clothing… we can make an inference that the two other catalytic converters were also stolen.”

The defense, however,  noted, “For the catalytic converter we have zero evidence…the evidence is based on assumption and speculation that it is over $950, the other two there is no evidence that they were stolen. The clothing is again the same argument as Count 1 which is speculation…the officer didn’t add up the items… there is insufficient evidence, both counts should be reduced to a misdemeanor.”

Judge Fiorini agreed, in part, ruling “the issue with regard to Count 1, I am finding that there is insufficient evidence that value was over $950. The officer didn’t contact U-Haul, evidence from tow truck driver lacks foundation, insufficient evidence that value was over $950. There needs to be more than that for a holding order.” 

The judge ruled, regarding the allegedly stolen catalytic converters, there was insufficient evidence and decreased the charge to a misdemeanor. 

Additionally, Judge Fiorini stated, “I find that there is sufficient evidence and inferences are more reasonable since victim items were stolen, clothing items were marked…the officer testified that there were multiple Nike shoes in new condition, items found in Mr. Hobbs’ cars are attributable to items in U-Haul… inference is reasonable and sufficient to hold him to answer.”

Hobbs will face his next court hearing on Nov. 8. 

About The Author

Mary Magana-Ayala is a junior at UC Davis double majoring in Political Science and Chicano Studies. She is from Watsonville, California.

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