Eyewitness, Victim and Wife Testify in Attempted Murder Trial about Alleged Beating

By Natalia Ruvalcaba

WOODLAND, CA – Testimony from an eyewitness, the victim and the victim’s wife were all heard Friday afternoon here in Yolo County Superior Court in the attempted murder trial of Mark Alan Smith, charged in a 2021 incident at the Crest Motel.

Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian called an eyewitness, who at the time of the incident was living at the Crest Motel. The witness, Seth (name changed for anonymity) was questioned about an altercation, to which he reported that the incident involved the motel manager and his left side tenant.

Smith, who was living in Room 104 at the time of the incident, was identified in court by Seth as being the second individual in the altercation.

Seth said around 7 p.m. he heard glass break and went to his peephole (on the front door) to see where the noise came from, and saw the manager walking to the street, followed by an exchange of words between the manager and Smith, who Seth said struck the manager several times.

Seth added, “He drug him. He was already knocked out. He drug him to the side of the speed bump, or the ordinance thing…He slammed him right there, like pretty hard and I heard a crack…and he started to kick his head in like right in front of my unit.”

Seth said he saw blood coming from the victim. Over the course of a couple of minutes, Seth also stated that he heard several cracks, as a result of the victim being beaten.

Seth noted that he did not know the victim, who Seth said was struck approximately eight times with head to foot contact.

Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt then cross-examined the witness, questioning his eyesight.  Seth admitted he does not have 20/20 vision and noted that, without glasses, he would need to “squint really hard to see your face.”

Additionally, PD Van Zandt questioned the position of the witness during the duration of the attack.  Seth said he never left his room and never opened the door, but that he could still make out what was happening through his room’s peephole.

Seth told the court that the glasses he was currently wearing were new. Seth only began wearing glasses about a week ago. When further questioned about whether or not he had worn glasses before, the witness stated that he did not and only got his glasses for the trial, in order to “recognize this dude.”

The victim and manager of the Crest Motel at the time of the attack was then brought to the stand for testimony and was accompanied Mayur Shah, a Gujarati interpreter.

When asked about his relationship with the accused, the victim noted he did not personally recall Smith because of the number of people coming in and out of the motel daily.

During the time of the incident, the motel was taking part in Project Roomkey—a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that housed individuals struggling with homelessness.

“Do you remember on that date, someone kicking out a door to room number 104?” asked PD Van Zandt, to which the victim responded that he heard someone kicking a door and came out to investigate. But, after trying to see what the noise was, the victim noted that he remembers nothing that ensued thereafter.

Due to the attack, the victim’s memory was lost and he was admitted into the hospital for five to seven days.

According to the victim, after he regained consciousness he still could not recall the incident and was confused about why he was in the hospital.

The incident has caused the victim to have difficulty in some things, but he stated that he can still do his daily activities.

DDA Kian asked the victim if he could recall anything regarding the surgery he had after the attack, but he stated, again, that he does not remember anything.

Months after the attack, the victim noted that he had sustained injuries that required him to only eat liquid foods and that for three months he could not consume any food that required chewing. In addition, he reported that could not speak for two months.

The victim told the court that the incident still affects his memory; he said he is not able to remember anything from the past. He noted that his memory is not worsening, and as time progresses he is able to recall a few things.

The wife of the victim was then called to testify, and said she was home at the time of the attack but was able to see what occurred through security cameras that were located at their motel.

The wife was also working as a manager at the Crest Motel at the time of the incident. She reported that she was in the kitchen when she saw the security cameras from the motel, in which her husband was lying on the ground as another man stood beside him.

She did not see the incident occur but testified that she assumed the man standing beside her husband was the perpetrator of the attack.

After seeing the condition of her husband through the cameras, the wife went to the motel where she found her husband unconscious. When she arrived Smith was still at the scene, but fled to an unknown location soon after.

The victim’s wife said she recalled the victim having a swollen face and blood exuding from his nose and mouth.

The interpreter translated for the wife, as she recounted that day: “I started crying and I also lost conscious.” She noted that she was scared and thought her husband might not survive.

Once the victim was brought home from the hospital, days after the incident, the wife noted her husband frequently asked what happened to him. She too, noted that he could not speak for one to two months due to a surgical procedure in his mouth.

The wife acknowledged that she remembered Smith, reporting that he lived at the motel at the time of the incident but had never spoken to him.

PD Van Zandt then asked if anyone had cleaned the crime scene before the arrival of first responders, but the wife responded that she had not.

The jury trial will reconvene Monday.

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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