Surveillance Camera Footage Trumps Defense Motion in Felony Theft Motion

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By Natalia Ruvalcaba

WOODLAND CA – Deputy Public Defender Peter Borruso argued that evidence was insufficient to convict Reuben Michael Kottke of second-degree burglary—but camera footage proves otherwise, said the judge here in Yolo County Superior Court last week.

DPD Borruso argued there was insufficient evidence of Kottke’s identity and thus there isn’t compelling information to substantiate his role in the crime.

Contrastingly, the prosecution challenged this claim, stating, “You heard Detective Cameron testify that the clothing and the backpacks of the two individuals captured on surveillance footage…clearly show that the two individuals were stealing items out of the storage unit.”

The DDA said the individuals, one being Kottke, were later found wearing the same outfits and backpacks as the individuals in the footage.

Judge Daniel Maguire declared that there is sufficient evidence, from the solar panels to the clothing, to identify Kottke as the likely perpetrator of the crime.

DPD Borruso filed a PC § 17(b) motion, which asks for a felony charge to be reduced to a misdemeanor, noting, “I’m asking the court to reduce the one and only felony charge of the second-degree.”

DPD Borruso claimed that it is unclear how sizeable of a role Kottke played in the crime.

Evidence depicts that the other suspect was the one with the bolt cutters, which, according to DPD Borruso, gives reasonable interpretation to believe Kottke didn’t play as heavy a role as the other individual.

The other individual, as said by DPD Borruso, thus “had more responsibility here, on what in fact occurred.”

In addition to lessening the role and importance of his client’s role in the burglary, DPD Borruso noted that the value of the property stolen was approximately $300.

However, even though his client has a prior felony, DPD Borruso reminded the court that he is only 27 years old and the burglary didn’t involve confrontation or violence.

In response to DPD Borruso’s request, the prosecution noted the defendant’s multiple offenses, dating back to 2018.

The DDA also considered that the conduct of the defendant was aggressive, according to police, despite DPD Borruso noting that the value of items stolen amounted to only $300.

DDA Coe reported that video evidence depicted the suspects breaking into the storage unit and stealing as much as they could. Accordingly, she noted, “I don’t think the damage amount or how much each item cost is relevant in making this 17(b) motion. This is felony conduct.”

Judge Maguire ruled the 17(b) motion would be declined, and thus Count 1, for second degree burglary, will remain a felony charge.

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About The Author

Natalia is a fourth year at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Sociology and minoring in Public Affairs. She looks forward to attending law school in the future, where she hopes to advocate for immigrant rights and/or environmental justice.

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