Preliminary Hearing in Alleged Human Trafficking Case Ongoing, Final Decision Due Wednesday

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By Samuel Van Blaricom

WOODLAND, CA – A case involving multiple felony charges levied against Conte Watson, including human trafficking, resumed Friday, with the final pieces of testimony from police officers offered here in a preliminary hearing in Yolo County Superior Court.

Judge Samuel McAdam said he would hear arguments on both the case and a motion to suppress from Deputy Public Defender Peter Borruso and Deputy District Attorney Rachel Raymond this coming Wednesday, Nov. 3.

“I’m not going to make a rash decision from the bench today,” said Judge McAdam. “Some of the issues are easy, but I want to go over each and every one to make sure that I’m making a proper ruling.”

In addition to human trafficking of an adult for commercial sex, Watson is also facing felony charges of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, threatening violence with the intent to terrorize, felony possession of a firearm and ammunition, pimping, pandering, and sodomy by force and violence, and enhancements.

If convicted of all counts and given the maximum sentence with all enhancements, Watson could be facing as up to 81 years in state prison.

According to Officer Cameron Simpson’s testimony, the charges come after Watson allegedly forced his ex-girlfriend with a gun to come with him in early September to San Francisco. There, he went through her phone and placed an advertisement online for her services.

After the trip to San Francisco, testimony noted they returned to Sacramento the next day to a Motel 6, where Watson had a woman over while keeping the victim from leaving. They allegedly smoked methamphetamine and then Watson took the victim on a fishing trip. Then, they returned to the Bay Area the next day.

There were also multiple trips made to a casino in San Pablo, during which Watson either brought the victim with him or kept her in the car, said the officer, noting they then returned to the West Sacramento area and went to the Crest Motel, at which point the victim texted her sister to call police.

When he was arrested, Watson apparently left his jacket in the motel room, which is where the police found a loaded semi-automatic pistol. Police also found three pounds of marijuana in his car.

The motion to suppress filed by PD Borruso concerned the context of the firearm and whether the jacket that contained it was searched illegally.

A financial dispute between Watson and the victim allegedly was the result of the victim’s house burning down and who should collect the insurance money. Watson believed that he was entitled to it, since he bought the insurance policy for her and “made a couple of the payments,” according to Officer Matthew Jameson.

This insurance money is the source of funding for this “four-day binge,” as Judge McAdam put it.

During cross-examination, PD Borruso disputed the nature of the relationship between Watson and the victim because of the characterization of parts of the trip. Though she was adamant about her being with him against her will, officer Jameson agreed that the victim recalled the fishing trip as “a nice fishing trip.”

The final date of the preliminary hearing and hearing on the motion will be 1:30 p.m. this Wednesday.

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About The Author

Samuel is an incoming senior at UC Davis with a major in English. He is originally from Roseville, CA.

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