By Ramneet Singh
WOODLAND, CA – Judge David Rosenberg, in a Yolo County Superior Court preliminary hearing Friday, found there to be enough to hold a man for trial on burglary and vandalism charges, after noting he had never seen that kind of damage
According to the court calendar, the prosecution had charged Shawn Patrick Martin Fitzgerald with felony burglary in one case and felony vandalism, an enhancement due to doing the act on release from a separate case, and a misdemeanor trespassing in another case.
Rosenberg did not mention the enhancement in listing the charge, but did say that the burglary was “in the second degree.”
Deputy District Attorney David Wilson prosecuted while Deputy Public Defender Valerie Nuding was Fitzgerald’s counsel.
Wilson first asked questions relating to the burglary charge in April of 2021.
The property manager confirmed a different tenant other than the accused was evicted from the apartment complex on 1049 Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento.
A few days later, the manager said some items, including a TV, were taken from the room and there was damage to the bathroom window.
The property manager described that he saw the TV in Fitzgerald’s apartment and Scott stated that Fitzgerald told him that “he said well I was just watching it for that tenant…he didn’t even know her name.”
The witness said another tenant had seen Fitzgerald in the apartment after he was evicted, and described the property damage and alterations in the room, noting “the apartment was a mess.”
Scott responded affirmatively to a question about the damage getting worse overtime and that Fitzgerald did not allow a full inspection.
In the cross-examination, PD Nuding learned multiple people had gone in and out of the apartment and that the manager could not specifically determine when the damage occurred.
The owner of the complex, since 2019, responded to DDA Wilson’s questions that Fitzgerald was supposed to report damages, was ordered to fix damages, and could not make alterations without clearance.
Through an email, the owner stated that Fitzgerald admitted to property damage.
The owner confirmed that the total estimated damage was around $37,000 for Fitzgerald’s apartment and an un-estimated amount for the apartment he allegedly broke into, but stated it might be around $400.
The owner stated the accused is “an intelligent young man and he was given multiple options on multiple occasions to evict the place with no rent…he…takes people’s kindness and treats them like they are fools and goes back to creating havoc.”
The owner stated “there was open defecation on the premises. He was inviting druggies and homeless people on to the premises.” In advocating for a max sentence, “this is not a person who wants to be reformed.”
Rosenberg cut her off and stated that this was not a sentencing and that she could be invited back for that.
Officer Erika Barajas’s testimony related to the burglary and Officer Matthew Montez’s testimony was about the vandalism.
PD Nuding argued, “I do not believe there is enough there for a holding order” on the burglary charge. She described the property as “abandoned.”
Judge Rosenberg stated, “It’s still property and it’s still owned by someone, is it not?”
DDA Wilson brought up the broken window, saying “he didn’t have permission, he didn’t have a set of keys.”
Moving to the vandalism case, PD Nuding suggested there were “serious proof issues” because of the difficulty with ascertaining who did that damage, when it happened, why, or how, adding that “this might be multiple counts of vandalism, but I don’t think there is enough there to aggregate them to get to this amount.”
Nuding said the case was a “landlord tenant issue…I don’t think we have the evidence here to criminally prosecute this.”
DDA Wilson said there was “increasing damage,” and the accused had admitted to damage. Wilson stated “the inferences are that no one else was seen doing the damage.”
DDA Wilson argued “when they could finally get in there, that was the amount of damage the defendant had caused to the apartment.” Wilson added that, after eviction, Fitzgerald was caught in front of the apartment.
Judge Rosenberg stated that “Mr. Fitzgerald will be held to answer and go to trial on all counts, noting there was “sufficient evidence of intent” for the burglary case.
Judge Rosenberg added there to be enough for the trespass and that, with the vandalism, “I’ve rarely seen such damage.”
PD Nuding motioned for a reduction to misdemeanor on the burglary count because of the accused’s “fairly minimal criminal history.”
But the judge denied the motion to reduce it to a misdemeanor, and set the next court date for May 27 for arraignment for a trial.