Judge Sustains Some Felony Counts in Stabbing Case Despite Confusing Witness Testimony, Possible Different Assailants

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By Alexander Ramirez

WOODLAND, CA. – Robert Sherman Obra faced a preliminary hearing here Friday in Yolo County Superior Court regarding an incident in Yolo County that led Obra to be charged with four different felony charges and three enhancements for those charges.

Those charges were all for assault and threatening, and included enhancements for inflicting injury, prior felon, and habitual crimes. These charges also led to one of the victims being sent to the hospital after being stabbed.

The court proceedings began with Deputy District Attorney David Wilson calling his first witness, Officer (first name unavailable) Jacobo, who described being on duty on Aug. 17, the day of the incident, and responding to a call of a verbal fight near a library.

However, responding to the scene revealed that more than a verbal fight had occurred, and instead someone had been stabbed. There were also three civilian witnesses who had seen what happened and were contacted.

Video surveillance depicted Obra exchanging words with one of the witnesses and walking slightly out of view where it is later believed to be where the stabbing occurred.

One of the witnesses, DOE1 didn’t explicitly mention a stabbing, said the officer, though he did eventually mention seeing Obra punched.

Deputy Public Defender David Muller’s cross-examination discovered Officer Jacobo never talked to the victim and never explicitly saw the supposed stabbing happen. Also, it was disclosed that the witness, DOE1, has a previous criminal history, although Officer Jacobo didn’t believe this makes him less credible.

Before Jacobo arrived at the scene, an Officer (first name unavailable) Hyde made contact with the three witnesses who were leaving the scene of the incident.

But when Hyde asked if they knew of any altercations at a library, “they were very vague about what they had observed but did advise that they saw some sort of altercation and that the suspect that was involved in that altercation had fled that area westbound from the library,” Hyde said.

The officer, however, had a much more detailed account of what he saw on video surveillance of the incident.

Hyde described Obra and the first witness, DOE1, arriving together and going up the steps of the library. There, they met with the other two witnesses of the incident and another subject that Hyde didn’t recognize.

Obra showed one of the witnesses a cellphone, that witness pointing in a direction and Obra heading in that direction before the camera picked up yelling and screaming. After coming back into the frame, Obra fist-bumped one of the witnesses, DOE1.

After confronting the three witnesses again, one of them identified Obra and described the events that Hyde saw on the video.

Cross-examination once again clarified that Officer Hyde never explicitly saw the events that occurred and questioned the credibility of the witness.

The next law enforcement witness, Det. (first name not available) Krantv, described making contact with the victim while at the UC Davis Medical Center where the victim was receiving a blood transfusion. A doctor’s description noted two stab wounds to the abdomen area and a drop of blood pressure that lead to the victim needing surgery.

The victim described being approached by an individual and hearing something along the lines of, “Is this the person f****** with my wife,” Krantv relayed. Apparently, the victim didn’t know what the individual was talking about, before hearing a click and being stabbed.

Interestingly, according to Detective Krantv, when showing a still of the event at the library to the victim, he said that both Obra and the first witness, DOE1, looked familiar to him, and even said that although he’s unsure, he pointed to DOE1 as possibly stabbing him.

According to Krantv, a later description of the suspect from the victim described an orange tank top or shirt, once again pointing to the witness, DOE1, first interviewed by Jacobo as the suspect that the victim believed stabbed him. Krantv also received a physical description of the suspect that could apply to both Obra and that witness, he said.

The defense cross-examination added to that victim’s description of the suspect to include frizzy hair and possibly being Hispanic or Latino, Krantv said. Obra, on the other hand, looked white, but Krantv said that this doesn’t rule him out as being Hispanic.

Also, while Krantv said that Obra appeared to be wearing a ball cap on the video surveillance of the incident, Krantv also said the victim never described a ball cap being worn by the suspect.

The last witness, Officer (no first name) Lal, described making contact with a homeless man, DOE2, who told Lal he met a girl he didn’t previously know while he was charging his ankle monitor, and that she asked if she could stay with him. He even let her use his sleeping bag momentarily.

The officer said he was told the female was picked up by a man who threatened to stab him before being stopped by the female and both walking away.

However, at the same area later, according to Lal, the man saw the male and female again when the male started walking toward him. Fearing confrontation, the man started walking away to the parole office, but he was still punched and kicked by the male before being saved by a bystander.

“I know nothing happened. You’re a target now,” and something along the lines of, “I’m going to stab you and kill you, homeboy,” Lal said.

Lal said that when he eventually heard that Officer Jacobo was investigating a stabbing incident, he was provided with Obra’s name and found some similarities with Obra’s booking photo and the man whom he saw beaten on a surveillance video.

PD Muller’s cross-examination questioned the DOE2’s credibility by noting he is a registered sex offender.

The defense argued that the events with DOE2 and his assaulter did not yield bruising, pain, or discomfort so “we don’t know” how much force was actually used by the suspect. Also when DOE2 was threatened, they were separated by a fence which would defeat the meaning of assault with a deadly weapon and the threat charge.

The defense also noted when taking into account the click that the stabbed victim heard before being stabbed and differing sides of where the man and victim were hit and stabbed suggested Obra isn’t the same person who committed the assault in one of these cases.

Finally, PD Muller argued the possibility that someone else actually stabbed the victim because of the description they gave to detective Krantv and even if it was Obra that stabbed the victim, the injuries weren’t that bad since none of the victim’s internal organs were punctured and the surgery was just exploratory.

DDA Wilson argued that how hard the man was hit doesn’t matter, but instead that he was knocked down and kicked, and even if there was a fence in their last confrontation the assaulter could stick his hand through the fence after he threatened to kill DOE2.

Also, Obra could have more than one knife and for the purposes of a preliminary hearing, there is sufficient evidence to keep all charges.

Judge Timothy L. Fall agreed with the defense argument about there being no evidence displaying great bodily harm dealt with DOE2, leading to the dismissal for Counts 1 and 2 of assault to produce great bodily injury and likely to produce great bodily injury.

However, Judge Fall kept the threat charge and believed that Obra was the one who committed the stabbing since the video caught Obra leaving the view of the surveillance video. These facts led to Count 3 of threat to commit injury and Count 4 of assault likely to produce great bodily injury being kept.

Matters were scheduled to resume on Dec. 22 at 9 a.m. in Dept. 14, and although Counts 1 and 2 received no-holding orders, a reduction of bail for Obra was denied.

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About The Author

Alexander Ramirez is a third-year Political Science major at the University of California, Davis. He hopes to hone his writing skills in preparation for the inevitable time of graduation.

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