Prosecutor Grills Accused Murderer about Lying to Police, and His Legal Knowledge


By Katherine Longjohn

RIVERSIDE, CA – The murder trial of Thomas Ryan Scott, who is representing himself against charges he fatally shot an 18-year-old man outside of a church on Aug. 18, 2016, reconvened here Wednesday in Riverside County Superior Court.

The trial Wednesday included the examination of witnesses, the most notable witness being Scott himself who was questioned by Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham, who spent much of his time quizzing Scott about his legal knowledge and representing himself.

Earlier in the trial, witnesses at the scene denied knowing or recognizing Scott as the killer.

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DA Beecham began by recalling how Scott had apologized to the jury a couple of days prior “for now telling the story that (he) wasn’t at the crime scene” despite initially confirming he was, in an interview conducted by the Riverside Police Department.

DA Beecham asked Scott, “For almost five and half years, you’ve held onto this lie…and that’s because you wanted to get back at the Riverside Police Department?”

To which Scott replied that “at the time, yes,” he did want to get back at the RPD.

DA Beecham continued his cross-examination by asking Scott about his various investigative decisions such as the choices he made in trying to obtain evidence and testing, specifically questioning Scott about his understanding and use of subpoenas or lack thereof.

DA Beecham pursued a line of questioning as to why Scott, upon finding out two people were present at the scene of the crime, did not obtain their call detail records.

“It’s not as easy as it sounds. So, for me being in the defense position I don’t have the power to get their cell phone information unless I get their consent and then I can subpoena it.”

Upon asking Scott if he subpoenaed anything in this case, Judge Matthew Perantoni interjected saying that “I’m not sure at all that the defendant understands the definition of subpoena.”

In confirming Scott’s understanding of subpoenas, DA Beecham’s questioning took a somewhat abrupt turn by asking Scott what he hoped to gain, if anything, by his position of being pro per and not having a strong familiarity with the legal system.

When Scott maintained that he “knows what a subpoena is but there’s different types and for different purposes” and that “that part (he is) not really familiar with other than for criminal” purposes.

To which DA Beecham promptly asked in response: “And you’re not asking the jury to feel sorry for you or give you extra credit because you’re pro per and you’re not an attorney and don’t understand the process, right?”

DA Beecham rationalized his question by referencing how Scott kept “saying that because (he’s) pro per (he) didn’t understand the system, it’s more difficult to subpoena.”

Scott firmly held the position that he wasn’t looking for sympathy or any sort of unfair advantages by saying, “No, but you (DA Beecham) of all people should understand the position I’m in. I don’t have as easy of access as you would come to believe.”

Before resuming his questioning on matters directly relating to the trial, DA Beecham asked Scott, “Whose choice was that?” in regarding being pro per and whether it is “something (he) is blaming on (him),” to which Scott responded with, “No.”

DA Beecham resumed his line of questioning of a particular witness about whom Scott had received reports.

When asking various questions related to the information obtained from this witness, even asking about the lack of credibility of the witness herself whose “national pastime is to lie to law enforcement,” DA Beecham took what appeared to be another abrupt turn by asking about whether Scott and not the investigator was actually the one who authored the reports.

While Scott responded to DA Beecham’s questions by saying, “I didn’t write the reports.” DA Beecham, who was unconvinced, continued: “Right, it just happens to be that (the investigator) says ‘rather’ instead of ‘whether’… he makes the same grammatical errors you do.”

Scott countered by saying that he “learned a lot from the investigator” to which the DA replied, “So you learned grammar from (the investigator)?”

Scott maintained that he picked up “certain paraphrases” from the investigator that weren’t already in his vocabulary.

Ending this particular line of questioning, DA Beecham asked, “So (the investigator), even though we don’t have any corroboration that he ever actually met (the witness) before July 23, 2018, just happens to speak the same way you do, right?”

Scott maintained his denial that he was actually the one who wrote the reports and that he and the investigator use the same grammar in their speech.

Circling back to the issue with which DA Beecham began his line of questioning, he began to ask Scott about the details surrounding his initial interview with Riverside PD regarding the murder committed in 2016.

Before asking specifics, DA Beecham began by confirming that Scott told “a lot of lies in that interview” and asking whether Scott understands that he is “an admitted liar.”

Scott agreed with both statements and confirmed that the lies he told are that “(he) committed the killing in self-defense.”

However, he claimed that he didn’t make up factors of self-defense, such as the firing of a warning shot, but rather just applied what he had heard take place, to himself.

Scott went on to describe how he heard about the details of the murder. He mentioned how the crime occurred in his neighborhood and how he wasn’t arrested right away.

So, he added, in the time between when the murder occurred to when he was arrested, “gossip goes around,” which is how he came to learn of the details.

In response to DA Beecham’s questioning, Scott confirmed that after he had learned of the warning shot fired before the murder, he then made up the other elements of self-defense such as: “they were going for my bag,” “they were belligerent towards me,” “they were trying to get drugs from me,” and “they wouldn’t back up when I told them to back up.”

In Scott’s redirect of DA Beecham’s cross-examination, he emphasized that “in his admission to law enforcement, it’s exactly how (he) felt when (he) was picked out in the middle of nowhere” without information.

He went on to say that he isn’t arguing his “misleading of the investigation was okay, but what (he’s) here to tell (the jury) is that in that particular interview, (he) wasn’t in the right mind frame.”

This matter is expected to proceed with a felony settlement conference scheduled later this week.


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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