Late Video Evidence Admission, Opening Statements in Double Murder Trial

By Jake Romero

DUBLIN, CA — Just before opening statements were made Monday, Judge Michael Gaffey allowed the prosecution to admit new evidence in the trial of Ronyae Haywood and Angel Shavers at the East County Hall of Justice / Alameda County Superior Court.

Haywood, 28, allegedly shot and killed two men during an illegal firearm sale in March 2020. Shavers, Haywood’s girlfriend at the time, is charged with arranging the meetup and for being an accessory after the fact.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Gaidos submitted a video for the court to review for late evidence admission.

The video is a composite of surveillance footage from a Grocery Outlet in San Leandro which shows the murders taking place. The original footage did not include audio, so it was overlaid with audio of the gunfire captured by a nearby resident’s Ring camera.

The police officer who created the composite testified that she did not alter the speed of the video at all in order to have it synchronize with the audio.

Defense counsel noted in their cross-examinations that the time stamps on the surveillance footage and the audio do not match up, and that the surveillance footage is inaccurate compared to real time. The officer said this was not unusual as most clocks differ from real time unless they are synced with an atomic clock.

Robert Palma, an officer who responded to the crime scene, also testified, noting he retrieved the Ring camera audio by using his department-issued iPhone to record it.

Defense attorney Christopher Lamiero, representing Haywood, argued against the evidence because the composite only includes 10 gunshots instead of the 12 total gunshots heard in the original audio, arguing, “We don’t know which 10 were selected.”

Lamiero also said the lateness of the admission does not allow the defense adequate time to have the video examined.

Associate Deputy Public Defender Amy Yellen, representing Shavers, argued the composite is unreliable because it uses Officer Palma’s phone recording rather than the original Ring camera audio.

“We have a recording of a recording, essentially, and I think we enter a dangerous territory when we’re presenting to the jury a manipulation of the video,” Yellen said.

Judge Gaffey dismissed the arguments and allowed the composite video’s admission into evidence.

After a brief recess, DDA Gaidos gave the prosecution’s opening statement. He informed the jury about the evidence they will be shown in the trial, such as the footage of the crimes and testimony from an eyewitness.

DDA Gaidos also said text messages between one victim and Shavers regarding the firearm sale will be shown because they were used to determine Haywood and Shavers’ involvement.

“This is not going to be a who-dunnit,” DDA Gaidos said. “We’re going to get to the point, and I think this is the kind of case we can do that with.”

The trial resumes later with the defense opening statements.

About The Author

Jake is a senior at UC Berkeley studying English & Journalism.

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