By Gwynneth Redemann
WOODLAND, CA – Jason Burgett—because he said he was unhappy with his public defender—chose to represent himself on sexual assault charges against his ex-girlfriend at a preliminary hearing Friday here in Yolo County Superior Court – Judge David Rosenberg later ruled the case would move forward to trial.
According to the testimony from Woodland City Police Detective Randall Krantz, who spoke to the victim, on Oct. 22 Jason Burgett allegedly asked the victim to “have sex in the laundromat to prove that she wasn’t cheating on him.”
Burgett and the victim were sitting in a car together outside a laundromat in Sacramento when this occurred. The court was told they were seeing each other on and off during this time.
When the victim told Burgett “no,” he allegedly “grabbed her wrist with one of his hands,” and tried to force her into a sexual act. The victim told Burgett to stop, explaining that she was not cheating on him, according to Detective Krantz’s testimony.
Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson asked the detective about the circumstances of the incident at the laundromat and an incident that happened earlier on the same day at a storage unit.
According to Detective Krantz, Burgett and the victim had been at a storage unit before arriving at the laundromat because Burgett was trying to retrieve some of his belongings.
The victim was said to have called her pastor’s wife “asking for help” while she and Burgett were at the storage unit. She then told the pastor and his wife that they would be going to a laundromat.
Detective Krantz said that the pastor and his wife arrived at the laundromat and saw Burgett and the victim sitting in his car.
“When they [Burgett and the victim] got out of the car, I believe he [the pastor] heard the victim say something about [Burgett] violating her. But nothing as far as specifics to that,” said Detective Krantz.
The pastor apparently stayed with Burgett to wash his clothes. During this time, Burgett commented “about the victim smelling like a condom,” which he believed to be evidence of the victim cheating.
DDA Johnson then brought up the fact that the pastor had suffered various convictions in 1998 such as lewd acts with a minor under 14, among other things. DDA Johnson wanted to make sure Burgett had this additional information since he recently decided to represent himself.
Accused/pro per Burgett then asked Detective Krantz if there was any evidence of “marks or bruising” on the victim.
Detective Krantz explained that there was a small mark on her mouth that looked “sort of like a canker sore which could have been inflamed due to what happened.”
Burgett continued, “At the place of the laundromat where you said the assault had taken place, there are video cameras everywhere. You didn’t get no footage from the business? She gave you the exact location of where we parked at.”
Judge Rosenberg interjected, “The question is confusing. What is the question?”
Burgett continued, “Do you have any camera footage that shows the front of the Lava Laundry where we parked?”
Detective Krantz said that he had reached out to the owners of the laundromat but never heard back. He mentioned that in previous and separate investigations there was no footage from this parking lot.
Burgett then asked about the storage unit incident and whether anyone had called the police about anyone there being “hostile.” Detective Krantz responded that he is “unaware of any calls made to the police.”
Burgett then proceeded to start making statements and wanted to ask Judge Rosenberg a question, but the judge stated, “Wait, wait. You can’t ask me questions. Here’s the way it works. [DDA Johnson] examined this witness. You are now cross-examining. That means you can ask questions to the witness.”
Burgett continued, asking, “Do you believe the pastor had discernment in his life?”
Judge Rosenberg interjected again, “I’m sorry, what’s the question?”
Burgett repeated the question. Judge Rosenberg asked, “Discerned you?”
Burgett stated “discernment” and then proceeded to give Rosenberg a definition of discernment.
Judge Rosenberg continued, “First of all you’re asking him about someone else’s state of mind, and I just told you that’s off-limits.”
Burgett apologized to the court.
Burgett proceeded to explain through his questions to Detective Krantz that all his belongings were in that storage unit but the victim was preventing him from retrieving his items.
After a few sustained objections, Judge Rosenberg told Burgett that he “should probably focus on the two crimes that are alleged.”
Burgett continued, “Did you know me and the victim do drugs together?” and Detective Krantz stated that “the victim said she knew that you were a heroin user, I believe.”
Burgett struggled to present new lines of questioning, again apologizing to the court after a series of objections from DDA Johnson and Judge Rosenberg.
Burgett was cautioned that “any statements you make can be used against you,” by Judge Rosenberg, when he began to speak. “That’s why we have attorneys,” quipped Judge Rosenberg.
It was later determined that Burgett chose to represent himself and not have an attorney because his previous public defender, he claimed, “was not doing adequate [work] and didn’t come to see [him]. So [he] needed evidence and needed to see [his police] report and everything.”
Judge Rosenberg explained that that “is a whole different thing,” and that he could have had a different lawyer appointed earlier in the case. However, given that they were at the preliminary hearing, he did not have that option now, noting, “We’re beyond that.”
Judge Rosenberg found sufficient evidence to move forward with the charges against Burgett. An arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. with Judge Tim Fall, prior to trial setting.