Trial Starts for 2 Men Accused of Pot Deal Gone Wrong – And Robbery, Attempted Murder, Etc.

By Gracy Joslin and Catherine Hamilton

WOODLAND, CA – Here in Yolo County Superior Court Monday, the jury trial of Isaiah Montrey Berkley and Theo Mitchell Ray Kelso started, and their fate will be decided by a jury in the coming weeks.

Back in 2019, between Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, both were charged with numerous felonies, including assault and discharge of a firearm, attempted murder, dissuading a witness, threatening to commit a crime with intent to terrorize, robbery in the first degree and attempted second degree robbery.

Berkley’s Defense Attorney John Paul Brennan, in opening statements to the jury said, “You are going to learn that these cases are all about lies.”

But, according to opening statements by Deputy District Attorney Paul Richardson, the first witness in the case got off work and went to go smoke weed with her friend, who also invited the two accused.

She did not know either Berkeley or Kelso before this incident. After smoking and returning home, she eventually heard a knock on the door and when she answered three men in masks pushed their way into her home.

DDA Richardson stated the witness recognized the men by their clothes, voice, height and build, but in her testimony she expressed she wasn’t paying attention to their voices because they weren’t really talking to each other during the meet up earlier that same day.

However, the witness claims to have recognized the defendants by their clothes as they were wearing the same outfits from earlier.

According to Kelso’s Defense Attorney Benjamin A Williams, Kelso was only identified by his black windbreaker and Williams warned the jury, “You will not be convinced anywhere near beyond reasonable doubt that her testimony here is true and credible.”

According to the witness statement, the suspects allegedly entered her home and told her, “give us your sh*t b*tch” and as she turned away one of the men pistol whipped her in the back of the head, with enough force to bring her to her knees.

In addition, the accused allegedly stole a Nike bag, cash, a jar of weed, and her roommate’s video games. Even though they said they “weren’t playing” and were serious, she recalled that at that moment, “I wasn’t afraid for my safety. Adrenaline kicked in. I didn’t think they would actually kill me.”

Fast forward a few days and, on Feb. 3 according to DDA Richardson’s opening statement, the other witness in the case went to meet with Berkley to sell some weed, and when he arrived at the meet up spot, the suspect got into his car.

Eventually a red Honda arrived and a man got out of the car with a mask and gun, causing the witness to immediately drive away.

This turned into a car chase around Woodland.

Eventually Berkley, according to the DDA, put a gun to the witness’ head and made demands. After some time, Berkley exited the car and as the witness reversed to drive away he clipped Berkleys’ shoulder which then led to him firing shots at the passenger window with one bullet striking the witness in the torso.

However, Defense Attorney Brennan said the witness attempted to run over Berkley, who, the attorney argues, is the real victim in this case.

Defense Attorney Brennan claims the witness didn’t even call law enforcement initially and “repeatedly lies to law enforcement.” It wasn’t until police showed up at his house to do a search that the witness talked with law enforcement.

Defense Attorney Williams added that DNA samples from the red Honda were tested, revealing that accused Kelso was not a contributor.

According to DDA Richardson, after being struck with a bullet the witness began to follow the red Honda. Berkley then, said the DDA to the jury, leaned out of the window and started firing bullets at the moving car.

However, Defense Attorney Brennan argued to the jury that since this witness was given immunity, he has and will continue to make up this story.

After the lunch break, cross-examination of the witness resumed.

Defense Counsel Brennan asked her for further clarification of the timeline of events both before and during the robbery. She said that she had smoked weed a couple hours before the event and at least one beer at home by the time the men arrived.

Then, she said that about five or 10 minutes after the men pushed her door open, the witness turned around and was hit in the back of the head. She remembered that the men had dark skin.

Brennan asked whether it was possible that the two men on trial were not the assailants.

“I don’t believe so, no,” she responded. Though when Brennan commented on her use of the word “believe,” she said, “anything’s possible.”

Next, DDA Richardson asked more questions during the redirect, starting with clarifying the placement of the men’s guns during the robbery. The witness said that they were pointing them at her.

Richardson asked if she thought her judgment was possibly impaired from smoking weed, and the witness said no.

The trial will proceed throughout the week.

About The Author

Gracy is a 4th Year at UC Davis studying Political Science and minoring in Communications and Sociology. Post graduation plans include traveling and then eventually attending Law School.

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