By Mary Magana-Ayala and Alexander Ramirez
WOODLAND, CA. – The jury is still out – as of Friday, according to court records – in a trial here in Yolo County Superior Court involving a misdemeanor charge against “SUS**” for allegedly trespassing at Cache Creek Casino Resort on Nov. 23, 2020.
The defense suggested the casino had the man arrested only after he tried to cash in a jackpot.
*(NOTE: SUS** is not a real name. The Vanguard does not cite the true name of suspects in most misdemeanor cases).
In late testimony, Deputy District Attorney Sherri Bridgeforth asked a casino employee, “If an individual has been excluded, has requested reinstatement, and the reinstatement is denied and they return to the property what kind of information would be available to your security agents?”
“Normally all that information they review before they contact the individual so they have their game plan prepared but then once they speak to that individual they give us information that contradicts what we have they will call dispatch,” replied the employee.
The employee mentioned that there was a reinstatement letter received by SUS**, but it was denied.
“From the day that you are excluded you have to wait 90 days from the exclusion date, write a letter explaining what happened and what you are going to do in the future to prevent it from happening again, do not return to the casino unless you received a reinstatement letter by mail,” explained the employee.
The DDA presented the reinstatement letter sent by SUS**, and asked the employee to read it.
“I am writing this letter to say I am sorry for having brought your casino to inappropriate circumstances which would reflect poorly on patrons and guests expecting a beautiful experience. I do hope you will accept my apology and allow for my return to your casino,” read the employee, who added those excluded from the casino are excluded from the entire property—and its different services, including a mini mart gas station, golf course, casino, spa, nine restaurants, and event center.
The employee said they didn’t feel comfortable with people who had been “excluded,” noting “if somebody is excluded there is a reason for their exclusion and I don’t feel safe with them being on the property because I am responsible for the safety and security of employees, patrons, and facility assets.”
A second employee with the position of security supervisor was also invited to testify, and said he contacted SUS** “when he was at a slot machine, informed him about his restricted status and that he was trespassing, he stated he had been reinstated and I told him that according to our documentation and records that was untrue.”
The security supervisor stated that SUS** was arrested and searched for the safety of the patrons and employees. He also stated that SUS** was escorted to the holding room and placed in a holding cell until a deputy arrived on scene.
“I issued him an exclusion from property form… to inform the subject of (SUS**) that is restricted from all casino properties,” stated the security supervisor.
Deputy Public Defender Katie Rogers asked, “You testified that if information is not input into Itrack then that can create a problem, and if information is not put correctly then that can lead to people who have been excluded previously be on the property, correct?”
“No, that is not correct,” replied the security supervisor.
PD Rogers confirmed with another security officer that SUS** was calm throughout the whole video of the incident and even cooperative with the security as he was placed in handcuffs. Rogers also clarified that there was no scene in the casino until security arrived.
DDA Bridgeforth immediately began her redirect by clarifying that SUS** was arrested because “he did something he wasn’t supposed to do,” which was being on the casino property.
Deputy Daniel del Castillo was called by DA Bridgeforth. While employed by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department, Castillo has been and was called to Cache Creek Casino for an issue regarding trespassing by someone previously excluded from the establishment.
Castillo would continue to say that SUS** was given a citation and escorted off the property.
Rogers began her short cross-examination by clarifying that SUS** was calm and cooperative during his whole interaction with Castillo and SUS** believed he had been reinstated at the time of the incident.
In closing arguments, DDA Bridgeforth maintained, “As a representative of the People, I have a burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that SUS** in this instance did indeed commit a trespass against Cache Creek Casino. There are three elements that we prove to be our burden…”
She continued, noting the elements were SUS** willingly entered the property, did so with the intent of obstructing or interfering with the business of the owner of the property, and that SUS** succeeded in interfering with the business of the owner of the property. Bridgeforth argued that her case met these elements.
As for PD Rogers, she argued that SUS** was arrested after he tried to “cash in that jackpot…it’s cheesy I know…”
She added SUS** thought he was reinstated after a possible mistake in the Cache Creek system, but the security didn’t care, and the fact that SUS** thought he was invited back to the casino defeats the definition of “trespassing.”
“Beyond a reasonable doubt means that if there are two or more reasonable conclusions and one of them points to SUS**’s innocence and one of them points to guilt, you have to pick innocent and you have to pick not guilty because it’s a reasonable conclusion, and that’s all we’ve got here. All we have in this case are reasonable conclusions to what happened that point to innocent,” Rogers said.
Although Rogers conceded that SUS** willingly entered the casino, she says that he did not intend to obstruct or interfere with business, nor did he, citing a witness testimony stating that there was no scene in the casino until security showed up.
DDA Bridgeforth would continue to say she won’t give the jury “smoke and mirrors” or a “red herring” and that SUS** willingly entered the premises based on testimonies and the defense’s own admission, but the fact that SUS** was calm is a red herring in the sense that it is irrelevant.
“Trespass doesn’t require that you trespass with a parade or that you trespass and that you have a big scene that you caused or a number of people that are there. That is irrelevant, it is a red herring, and you need to be very cautious when you are back in that jury deliberating room about what your focus is. Don’t get sidetracked. Your focus is on proving three elements and I need you to focus on that,” the DDA said.
Not only that, but she asserted that obstruct or damage doesn’t have to mean physically, like the property right to exclude someone from their premises, or when security have to take time out of their day to arrest someone for trespassing. Also, just because SUS** thought he was reinstated is also irrelevant to the case.
Judge Peter M. Williams reminded the jury that the arguments they just heard are just arguments and not evidence, and said the jury would be deliberating soon, but the Yolo livestream did not go up for the rest of the day. Court records indicate the jury, as of Friday, had not delivered a decision.