By Mary Magana-Ayala and Ramneet Singh
SACRAMENTO, CA–– A string of marijuana burglaries that occurred in 2019 was the focus of a preliminary hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court this week for a host of suspects held on felony charges—evidence featured a series of surveillance videos that purportedly showed the alleged crimes.
The judge set a trial, but admitted that the evidence presented was “substantial” but “disjointed” and hard to follow.
In terms of the other codefendants, all were held to answer for conspiracy. Jones had to answer Counts 2 through 13 of burglary. Jakari Jenkins had to account for Counts 8 through 10. Ankoma Riddick had to account for Counts 4 and 5. Marquise Smith had to account for Counts 8 through 13. Curran Warren faces Counts 11 and 12.
Deputy District Attorney Hillary Davison brought a series of police officers and detectives to testify and share information on the 13 different burglaries the suspects were charged with in court.
Police Officer Mark Roddy from the Sacramento Police Department stated he was dispatched to a call on Aug. 6, 2019, at around 3:30 a.m. to SAC Pharma Partners Inc.. Arriving at the scene, he explained that there were “roll up doors smashed in and interior doors were locked.”
Referring to the surveillance video, Officer Roddy explained “a fourth car entered the frame and backed out and then accelerated hard in one of the doors and forced the door open.”
Officer Guillermo Alvarado said, regarding video, “I remember seeing three vehicles approach the front of the business, about five subjects went and broke the lock of the gate, they went inside the premises, one of them forced open the door to unit B, the other subject went around the building and went to unit A which was the marijuana dispensary.”
The next witness to testify was Detective Alioto, referring to the burglary that occurred in Aug. 25, in the same warehouse GFI Inc. was located, Alioto said he also was assigned the burglary that occurred at South Sacramento Care Center, which is a marijuana dispensary located in Unit A of the warehouse.
When reviewing the surveillance video, Detective Alioto stated, “There were three different vehicles, one appeared to be consistent with Mercedes Benz… second vehicle appeared to be a BMW, third vehicle was most consistent with a Nissan.”
“There were several boxes of certain brands of finished marijuana products that were stolen during that burglary… I think in this case it was around $37,000 worth of product,” stated Detective Alioto.
Detective Alioto noted one of the defendants, Shaun Jones, was identified during a traffic stop in the Mercedes car that matched the description of one of the three cars involved in the burglaries.
After looking at Jones’ Instagram, Detective Alioto said police retrieved an additional suspect who had the resemblance of the BMW driver at the burglaries, later identified as Jahuari Jenkins. A third suspect who was seen in the front passenger of the BMW was also identified to be Marquise Smith.
Detective Alioto also listed his involvement in another burglary located at Bloom Farms, next door neighbor to South Sacramento Care Center, that occurred Aug. 25, 2019.
From the conversation with the owners, Detective Alioto recalled, “He said that just before 5 in the morning the video captured a few vehicles pulling up. They made entrance to the property through the front gate, the gate lock was cut, the subjects forced entry into the buildings and then made entry into the business and stole almost $60,000 in marijuana products.”
The detective said he identified several cards and several people now charged.
In reference to another burglary that occurred on August 27 at Mama and Pops, a marijuana dispensary, Detective Alioto recalled he viewed the exterior surveillance video which he explains showed an SUV backing into the driveway and ramming against the roll up door. Detective Alioto stated the suspects were unsuccessful in opening the roll up door but completed the burglary from the north side.
From another marijuana dispensary burglary at Therapeutic Alternatives that occurred on Aug. 27, 2019 Detective Alioto said the owner claimed losing marijuana and a safe, more than $160,000.
Detective Alioto also noted his follow up at the business PK Solutions, which also experienced a burglary Aug. 3, 2019. He said the surveillance videos obtained showed, “One of the suspects had a face mask with a distinct pattern identical to several of the other burglaries that were investigated throughout the city.”
Detective Aaron Borg was also invited to testify from his experience investigating the string of burglaries occurring at marijuana businesses in 2019.
Reporting on the burglary that occurred on July 27, 2019, at All in Alliance, a marijuana cultivation business, Detective Borg notes, “They ransacked the trim and growing room that had coolers where they have fresh product and stole 40 pounds of gelato and 40 pounds of baklava… each 40 pound packet of strain was 150 thousand dollars.”
From the burglary at 420 Stock that occurred on August 6, 2019 Detective Borg stated the suspects broke into the building by breaking the front door but left after a few minutes since the marijuana business did not have marijuana product.
Detective Borg mentioned that they were able to identify another suspect after an officer responding to the call saw a vehicle passing by at high speed in a Nissan Altima. The driver of the vehicle was the defendant, Ancoma Riddick, and the officer was able to find a black ski mask in plain view, grip gloves, and a large empty trash bag behind the seat.
Detective Borg’s testimony and the hearing continued into the afternoon session.
Through direct examination, Borg answered that Jones and another passenger were stopped on Sep. 4, 2019, by Officer Mills. Jones had two phones that he claimed he owned. From a brief, Borg stated that the other passenger cleared information from his phone but Jones did not.
Borg responded that the evidence was cataloged and Jones’s “parole status” allowed them to go through the information.
During the cross-examination from Defense Attorney Welch (first name not recognizable Zoom), Borg answered that he looked at the surveillance about the burglary but could not figure out the specifics of the items removed from All in Alliance based on the video. He later noted that the owner was more knowledgeable about the product, such as storing and pricing.
Davisson’s next witness was Officer Trevor Schwertfeger, who was present at a “parole search” of defendant Jones’ residence.
Initially, Haley Goodchild answered the door and was “detained.”
Schwertfeger noted that they found a “resume” of Jones, “traffic citation” connected to Jones, and “car registrations” for Goodchild, with photographs of the two. There “was insurance paperwork” of Goodchild found.
Schwertfeger stated there was a Lexus connected to Jones and a traffic citation for a Mercedes.
In discussing the photographs, Schwertfeger noted there was a photograph of the two where Goodchild displayed money, “several hundred dollars’ worth.”
Schwertfeger attested to “marijuana products” in the residence. He also noted specific clothing, such as sweatshirts with “BIOR” and a shirt with “Wild Boys.” There was somewhat over $11,000 located in the clothing.
Schwertfeger described a “fully automatic” firearm in the kitchen; he noted he was “later informed” by an expert on this information. There were two objections concerning this part of the testimony. Both were eventually overruled.
In the cross-examination, Welch discussed the clothing and the weapon. Schwertfeger acknowledged some knowledge of gun modification, but that “…I do not have the expertise to say that modification makes it fully automatic myself.”
Welch asked to remove this testimony, but Currier allowed Davisson to elaborate on the point with a separate witness.
Davisson’s next witness was Sergeant John Pullen, who had worked with Alioto and Borg on these cases. Pullen generally discussed the phone information.
Concerning count two, All in Alliance on July 27, 2019, he cited video evidence and his role in cross examining burglaries generally. He noted that Jones and Isaiah Mitchell were pulled over in a silver Mercedes; the vehicle was connected to Jones.
Within this, Pullen was asked to “identify” Jones present in the courtroom. Due to difficulty, Judge Currier noted that this was “extraordinarily suggestive identification.”
Moving back to the phone, Pullen noted that Jones had texted before and after the burglary and had shared his location.
There was a question about the relation between the clothing in surveillance and the aforementioned clothing, but this was objected to and Davisson withdrew the questions. There was a subsequent objection to a question that appeared “argumentative.”
Moving to Count 3, PK Solutions on Aug. 2, 2019, Pullen appeared to have connectivity issues. The audio was inconsistent at times.
Once these issues were settled, Pullen responded that there was a “commercial grade scale” from the scene and there was a picture in the phone.
Moving to Count 4, Sacramento Pharma Partners on Aug. 6, 2019, Pullen noted that Jones sent location information related to the addresses 420 Stock and Sacramento Pharma Partners the day before.
Moving to Count 5, 420 Stock on Aug. 6, Pullen noted that there was photographic evidence of a Lexus, similar to the vehicles present at other burglaries. There are also pictures of the store.
In the cases of South Sacramento Care Center on Aug. 25 and Mama N Pops on Aug. 27, Pullen noted that there was no phone evidence that connected Jones to the scene. Pullen stated there would be other reasons for complicity in those cases.
Judge Donald Currier sustained a call to strike the last response because it was “not responsive.”
In the cross-examination, Welch and Pullen discussed the nature of the phone’s GPS location concerning Count 2. Pullen was not as sure about the surveillance, but the location and the texts were “indicative.”
With Count 3, Welch and Pullen discussed the nature of the scale, with Pullen also noting that there was a serial number on it.
At this point, Borg was recalled and responded to questions about the clothing and count two. Similar to other cases, he noted that there were “dark hooded sweatshirts with block lettering with sayings on them” along with a satchel belonging to Jones. The items had the words “BIOR” and “SUPREME.”
After finding out about Jones, Borg noted that he made observations from the surveillance of other cases and Jones. He connected the aforementioned material evidence to individuals from Oakland “that wore that same items and that’s how we connected Jones with that clothing as well as the satchel. He was the one that wore it in other videos from other crimes.” He made out “physical characteristics.”
Going back to Riddick and his “parole or probation status,” Borg noted how his ankle monitor location and time were relevant. As an example, he connected him to a location of a different burglary. Borg connected Riddick to Sacramento Pharma Partners through locating data.
After an objection, Borg responded that he only knew Riddick from the processed information, not before he was stopped. For 420 Stock, he “identified” Jones and Riddick. He discussed the 420 Stock event. The parole agent stipulated that Riddick’s location was correct.
In the cross-examination, Borg noted that a separate officer gathered parole details for the 420 Stock case, while he had focused on Sacramento Pharma Partners. Roope claimed “multiple levels of hearsay” and wanted to remove the testimony relating to 420 Stock. Judge Currier removed the testimony. There was more discussion of the location.
In the redirect, Borg responded that he understood the officer’s information on 420 Stock to be accurate and moved forward based on that. He noted the temporal distance from gathering information in recalling the details.
At this point, Pullen was recalled and asked questions concerning the Jones’s residence and particularly the weapon.
Pullen discussed his understanding of the firearm being fully automatic from a “function test drill” and said he followed the firearm expert based on what he knew.
In the cross-examination, Welch continued the discussion of his ability to properly identify the firearm. Pullen noted that since that period, he has taken a course on this subject.
Even with his knowledge, he stated, “I’m not sure that with the training I’ve received, I would be comfortable looking at one only, visually and making that determination.” He noted the expert “determination” of the nature of the gun.
At this point, Alioto was recalled and Davisson proceeded to run through the remaining alleged counts.
Concerning Count 8, South Sac Care Center on Aug. 25, 2019, Alioto identified Jones, Jenkins, and Smith. There were individual reasons, but the broad evidence was based on surveillance of physical characteristics, vehicles and their information, and phone evidence.
These pieces of evidence were substantiated by Alioto’s experience and cross-examining. Throughout the course of the investigation of other cases, the pictures were cross-referenced with an Oakland “detective or sergeant” who was aware of some of the individuals.
Alioto clarified how he knew of the particular identities based on registered information. There was an objection to certain information used to identify one of the defendants, but Davisson focused on driver license information.
Concerning Count 9, GFI on Aug. 25, Alioto said the incident occurred in the “same structure” as count eight and he identified the same defendants and similar vehicles.
Concerning Count 10, Bloom Farms on Aug. 25, Alioto gave similar reasons to the previous counts, noting the clothing.
Alioto noted that in the cases of Mama N Pops, and Count 12, Therapeutic Alternatives, involved the same individuals. He stated they “occurred on the same morning.” For Count 12 there was a fourth individual, Curran Warren, who was deceased.
There was objection to Jenkins being connected in Count 12. Alioto noted that “there was not enough probable cause” for a warrant but “there was enough of a nexus” with the presence of the same vehicle connected with the other cases.
With Count 12, Alioto cited photographic evidence from the phone that related to “large amounts” of money.
Alioto responded with the implication of surveillance on physical characteristics, clothes, and items. The clothes had specific wording on them. He also noted the relevance of the phone evidence.
Alioto connected Count 12 to the Mama N Pops case through the vehicles and the photographic evidence from Jones’s phone with the stolen money from count 12. The clothing tied these people together.
Alioto responded that these incidents occurred after the business had closed.
In the cross-examination, Alioto answered affirmatively that the GFI store camera could only capture the vehicles and to the fact he could not visibly notice Jenkins exiting the store. Savill set up the questions.
He noted that from the surveillance and different levels of affirmation indicated that it was “similar to a BMW.” After Savill pressed on, Alioto noted it was a “fair assessment” to state that they were “certain” that one of the vehicles was allegedly a BMW after understanding a BMW belonged to Jenkins.
Casey asked questions concerning Smith and the still images utilized in comparing. Alioto also responded about the pictures sent to an Oakland sergeant.
Savill asked further questions about Alioto “identifying” Jenkins. Alioto stated that he “appeared identical” in cross referencing the photo.
At this point, DDA Davisson presented no more witnesses and withdrew Counts 6, 7, and 13. Judge Currier acknowledged there was “no evidence” related to those.
On behalf of Jenkins, Savill began to make a point about the “external camera” at the location of Count 9. At this point, Singh had technical difficulties and missed the rest of her arguments and a portion of Welch’s.
On behalf of Jones, Welch noted that the vehicle in Count 3 did not correspond to one of Jones. Concerning the clothing, he argued “misuse of the English language to call something distinct, simply because it has an identification of who makes it…until you can get to a fact.”
Concerning Count 3, Welch mentioned the scale and the evidence relays that it “likely has uniform, state certification.” He stated that the serial number was mentioned later, “though that was not something that was actually testified to and it was not put into evidence.”
On Count 4, Welch noted a lack of knowledge about the vehicles or individuals based on his information. Welch referred to Pullen’s testimony on a photograph from Aug 5, “a GPS or a photograph from a day that is not the same day as the incident nearly has no significance at all.” He presented other information that may not connect the happenings to Jones.
On Count 5, Welch proclaimed a lack of identification of individuals and a misunderstanding about the vehicle.
Welch would “concede” on Count 8; he would “submit” on Count 9.
On Count 10, Welch stated that Pullen or Borg did not provide concrete identification and stated that a “sweatshirt in and of itself is not sufficient for probable cause of holding.”
On Counts 11 and 12, Welch concluded on the insufficient evidence concerning the hoodie.
On behalf of Smith, Casey wanted to “dismiss Count 9” due to issues with the vehicle evidence and Smith’s involvement. He would “submit” on the other counts.
On behalf of Riddick, Roope stated a potential lack of evidence for Count 1 and that “I don’t think we have anything that pins him to either of the three places listed as the basis for the conspiracy.” He listed a lack of evidence from count four and that GPS location in count five did not indicate he was physically on the area. He would “submit.”
DDA Davisson stated that for Jenkins, based on the presence of his vehicle at other locations and temporal proximity, his charges are valid.
DDA Davisson argued that for Jones, the possession of the gun meant that it could be considered “that he knows exactly what it is.”
Continuing on Jones, DDA Davisson stated that location data and other phone evidence connect him to count two. Davisson noted the connection between the clothing at his residence and surveillance with the other evidence, his charges are valid.
For Count 5, DDA Davisson there was a vehicle identified that was belonged to Jones. The Mercedes connected to the burglaries had a traffic citation in Jones’s place. She noted car registration for the Lexus.
For Count 9, DDA Davisson noted the consistency of the physical characteristics. For Riddick, Davisson pointed to the parole evidence on Count 4.
Judge Currier stated that “the evidence in this case is substantial, but it was presented in a disjointed way that made it difficult for the court to follow.”
Concerning the firearm, Judge Currier noted the knowledge of residence and that “probable cause has been met with regard to whether or not it’s an automatic firearm…the officer said he had expertise.” He referenced the function test. The probable cause applied to the defendant’s knowledge of the modifications to the gun.
Judge Currier noted that the comparisons of photographs “is not inappropriate to the finding of probable cause.” He argued that comparisons between “a known suspect photograph and a suspected piece of evidence” and that these are “generally reliable.”
He noted the strength of evidence is not consistent, “but based on the overall weight and the totality of the evidence, the court finds all charges…to be true and will issue a holding order.”