Auto Burglary Trial Proceeds; Victims, SFPD Officers Testify

By Tiffany Thai

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The trial for Mark Wilson Guinto, charged with felonies surrounding a 2019 vehicle break-in and burglary, reconvened here in San Francisco County Superior Court Thursday.

Guinto appeared in front of Judge Eric R. Fleming and is represented by Deputy Public Defender Diamond Ward.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Koo called his remaining five witnesses to testify in the case Thursday, including SFPD Officer Christopher Stoffel, who was one of the officers in the first set of police to arrive at the scene.

He and another officer attempted to stop a vehicle that matched the description of one connected to the crime. Officer Stoffel noted they did not pursue the vehicle very long as the SFPD has a no chase policy for non-felonies, which the case was considered at that time. It’s now being charged as a felony.

PD Ward began her cross-examination of Officer Stoffel by clarifying that Stoffel was in the first set of officers who arrived at the scene.

PD Ward recalled that ADA Koo stated the car was a white Mercedes in his questioning. Accordingly, PD Ward asked Stoffel if he was sure that the car was the white Mercedes.

Officer Stoffel noted that he “remember(ed) seeing the make and model” of the car.

PD Ward pressed, “So you don’t know whether it was a Mercedes or Affinity?” Officer Stoffel confirmed that he was not sure, but the car matched the description.

PD Ward proceeded to ask Officer Stoffel about body-worn camera footage taken during the incident.

As PD Ward played the video, it was notably nighttime in the video. PD Ward stopped the audio a few seconds in and asked Stoffel, “Officer, do you recognize your voice in the body-worn footage.” Stoffel said, “I do.”

As the footage played, Officer Stoffel and another police officer were talking to a witness and could be heard saying, “Hopefully, we can put the guy in jail for a little bit.”

The second witness called by ADA Koo was the individual who rented the vehicle that was allegedly broken into by Guinto.

The witness said they were visiting San Francisco with their partner and two other couples. They had rented a car that the witness described as a Black, eight-passenger SUV.

The witness noted that he had locked the car when they left the vehicle to go to dinner and a friend’s place the evening of the incident. The witness did not have items stolen, but others in his party did.

PD Ward began her cross-examination of the second witness by asking if they remembered what they ate and had to drink the night of the incident.

The second witness said that he could not remember every detail of that night.

PD Ward pointed out to the witness that they remembered that they had locked the vehicle before he left, “but you can’t remember what you ate, what you drank?”

PD Ward asked the witness if the police officers had arrived at the scene before the witness and the rest of their party.

The third witness called to testify by ADA Koo was a friend of the second witness who had items stolen during the incident, including their luggage, medical bag with their sleep apnea machine, and private reserve wine from Temecula.

ADA Koo asked the witness the value of the sleep apnea machine. The witness said he had searched and found the same machine online, which valued the device at approximately $3,000 to $4,000.

In the third witness’ cross-examination, PD Ward asked if a replacement for the sleep apnea machine was obtained, and the witness stated they were able to get one through their insurance company after three weeks.

The fourth witness, called by ADA Koo, is the partner of the third witness. The witness had their belongings stolen from the vehicle, including their work computer, headphones, and mouse, valued at about $450.

The last witness called by the prosecution was SFPD Sgt. Thomas Ly, who testified to how he was able to track down the white Mercedes in question using a partial plate, noting SFPD has access to several databases that allow officers to compile a list of vehicles using partial plates and matching descriptions.

Sgt. Ly confirmed he used two different databases to find vehicles matching the vehicle’s description and the partial plate.

In PD Ward’s questioning of Sgt. Ly, she clarified that Ly was not a reporting officer to the case and is involved because of the search of the partial plate and investigation.

PD Ward called on her first witness, Michelle Avila, an SFPD officer. Officer Avila and her partner were the actual reporting officers and authors of the police report.

PD Ward asked Officer Avila if flashing lights were coming from the burglarized vehicle when she arrived on the scene. Officer Avila said she could not recall.

PD Ward then asked Officer Avila about a witness at the scene, the same witness Officer Stoffel talked to in his body-worn footage. The witness was being asked to identify the person they had seen break into the vehicle.

PD Ward asked Officer Avila, “Do you know why was [the witness] unable to make a selection during the cold show?”

Officer Avila said that the suspect was wearing a white shirt, but the defendant in the cold show wore a white shirt and a black jacket. Therefore, the incident witness could not be sure of whom he would identify as the suspect.

PD Ward also clarified that Officer Avila did arrest Guinto, but she did not initially detain Guinto because another officer detained Guinto.

In the cross-examination, ADA Koo tried to bring clarification to Officer Avila’s testimony by asking about the lighting in the body-worn footage.

Officer Avila was uncertain of the lighting and whether she used a flashlight when investigating but noted that her partner did, as was noted in the body-worn footage.

The trial will resume on Dec. 10 in Dept. 16 in San Francisco County Superior Court.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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