Man Set for Trial – Judge Said Cop Called as Defense Witness ‘Unusual’

By Sahaily Zazueta

RIVERSIDE, CA – Brandon Scott Avery is now being held for trial on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence, stalking, criminal threats death/great bodily injury, and extortion after his Riverside County Superior Court hearing Friday.

The victim in this case and two police officers testified before the court. One of the police officers, John Goodman, was called as a defense witness, which Judge MacFisher commented on as “unusual.”

Avery was arrested on April 15, 2021, and is facing charges of stalking, criminal threats, extortion, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, and repeatedly harassing “Jane Doe.”

Officer Goodman with the Corona Police Department was the last witness called to testify in Avery’s preliminary hearing, and Goodman—oddly—testified as a witness for the defense.

Avery’s private attorney, Michael Jones, began his direct examination of Goodman by establishing that on Feb. 20, 2021, Goodman had responded to a call for service made by the alleged victim, Jane Doe. Goodman stated that he was wearing an active body camera throughout his interaction with Jane Doe.

Officer Goodman testified that while he was responding to her call, Jane Doe received and answered a phone call from a male. Goodman stated that he heard the man on the other end of the line say something to the effect of, “You’re gonna regret it.”

Goodman also stated that he heard the man ask Jane Doe, “How would you feel if your mother disappeared?” Attorney Jones asked the officer if the man elaborated on this question. Goodman responded, “No.”

Jones asked Goodman if the man gave any threat of violence. Again, Goodman responded, “No,” and stated he could not determine where the male who had made the phone call was located.

Goodman said he never contacted the male suspect as part of his investigation because “I informed [Jane Doe] that per my investigation I’d probably have to contact him just to see what he might’ve meant from the statements and she didn’t want me to do that because of fear of retaliation.”

Goodman stated that Jane Doe said Avery had been in the military and he owned weapons, and that she had been in an abusive relationship, noting again that Avery was a former Marine and in the Army Reserve.

Deputy District Attorney Allison Gray confirmed with Jane Doe that she continued to answer Avery’s calls because she did not want Avery to harass and threaten her family. Jane Doe stated that she had feared for her family’s life because Avery had said, “If you ever leave me, you’re gonna pay the price.”

Officer Michael Brunn from the Corona Police Department later stated that at around 11:45 a.m. he had responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle in a neighborhood in Corona. He said he recognized the man in the vehicle as Avery.

Brunn stated that when he asked the suspect what he was doing parked in the neighborhood, the suspect stated he was waiting to pick up a friend who lived around the corner.

Deputy District Attorney Allison Gray asked Brunn to describe the suspect’s behavior when he was questioning him, and Brunn stated that the suspect was evasive and kept moving around in his vehicle toward the center of the car.

Brunn said that he then asked the suspect to exit the vehicle so he could pat him down for weapons and have him sit on the curb. Brunn stated that he returned to the vehicle to inspect it and observed the butt of a pistol wedged between the driver’s seat and the center console.

Brunn added he retrieved the pistol and confirmed that it was a working firearm with a magazine but no ammunition, and that when he spoke with Jane Doe after his interaction with Avery, Jane Doe’s demeanor was “scared and crying and shaking a bit.”

Brunn stated that he also spoke with Jane Doe’s sister, who showed him her phone with a text message thread between her and Avery that included one that said if Jane Doe did not engage in sexual intercourse with him, he was going to send a photo to her family.

Brunn stated that the photo Avery mentioned was included in the text message thread. Brunn stated that Jane Doe’s sister had identified the photo as “a topless photo of herself that was taken when she was a teenager.”

On cross-examination, Defense Attorney Jones asked Brunn to confirm that he could not identify the woman in the photo. Brunn confirmed this.

Brunn noted that during the course of his investigation, he discovered that Jane Doe had made a prior report about Avery. Brunn stated that he contacted the officer that had responded to that report, and that officer stated that he had only taken a report.

Brunn stated that the officer told him he took the report for documentation only because the incident did not rise to the level of a crime and the witness statements were vague.

On redirect questioning, DDA Gray asked Brunn if he had seen the whole gun that was wedged in between the driver’s seat and the center console of the suspect’s vehicle. Brunn explained he had only seen the butt of the pistol but could identify the gun because he was a firearms instructor.

Judge Fisher addressed Jones’ concerns about the charge of harassing Jane Doe, specifically claims by Defense Attorney Jones that because the topless woman in the photo was unidentifiable, the charge of harassment could not be valid.

Judge Fisher stated that the issue was not the identity of the woman in the photo; the issue was Avery’s intent to distribute the photo to Jane Doe’s family members with the claim that it was Jane Doe’s sister in the photo. Judge Fisher stated that the charge of harassment was valid.

The next court date in Avery’s case is scheduled for Feb. 16, at 8:30 a.m. prior to setting a trial date.

About The Author

Sahaily is a senior undergraduate student at California State University Long Beach, majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Human Development. She aspires to become a public defender.

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1 Comment

  1. PhillipColeman

    Police officers being subpoenaed by the defense is not as rare as most may think. A law enforcement officer is sometimes questioned essentially as a “character witness” for the defendant. I’ve done it several times. Police are always responsive to pre-trial questioning by the DA.

    There is a risk to this tactic.  The prosecutor, of course, can cross-examine the officer, and evidence is sometimes revealed that is harmful to the defense case. Usually, it’s a move of desperation by defense counsel.

     

     

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