Judge Rules Felonies Remain in Case Where Suspected Shoplifter Attacked Raley’s Security with Knives

By Matthew Torres

WOODLAND, CA – A preliminary hearing in Yolo County Superior Court this week featured the accused, who is charged with felony threatening a crime with the intent to terrorize, and assault likely to produce great bodily injury—the judge ruled the case should go to trial.

Deputy District Attorney Caryn Warren called Officer Nvard Avagyan from the West Sacramento Police Department to testify as to the events that occurred.

Officer Avagyan said the victim, who was working as security at a Raley’s grocery store in West Sacramento, was alerted by an employee about a woman with a backpack they suspected might be stealing.

The victim told the officer that he instructed the woman, placing items into the backpack when he approached, to put the items on the counter and leave.

The victim said the woman placed the items on the counter and began walking toward the exit when she looked back and said, “I’m going to f—ing kill you,” before walking out of the store.

The victim said the tone of her voice and anger when she spoke made him concerned for his safety. The woman then allegedly returned approximately 20 seconds later with two knives in her hands.

The woman repeated, “I’m going to kill you,” and began running toward the victim, who pepper sprayed her, and threw a cart in front of her in an attempt to trip her.

This attempt did not work and she stabbed at him, missed, and punctured some water bottles. Officer Avagyan noted the woman had to be within five feet of the victim at this time. The victim said the pepper spray did not seem to have an effect on her, but she did leave the establishment.

Before exiting she turned again and told him, “I’m going to get a gun, come back, and kill you.” Immediately after that, the woman did what was described as a “tomahawk throw” by throwing one of her knives at the victim, which he dodged.

This report from the victim was consistent with surveillance video later obtained by the police department. Officer Avagyan identified the woman in the video to be the accused.

Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke asked Officer Avagyan about a photo lineup that was created by her and conducted by another officer and shown to the victim, who was unable to identify the accused from that lineup.

DPD Gocke clarified that the woman who attacked the Raley’s security guard was not wearing a face mask so there was nothing obstructing her face.

He argued surveillance video has varied quality, concluding, “You (the officer) indicate here in court you are able to identify [the accused] in the surveillance footage that you observed, but the person who was physically present that day, the alleged victim, was not?”

DPD Gocke asked the court to consider a no-holding order based on the witness being unable to identify the assailant, adding if the court was unable to do that he would then request the court reduce the charges to misdemeanors due to the accused’s minimum record being only misdemeanors from years ago.

In response to the defense, DDA Warren said Officer Avagyan was able to identify the accused from the video and that holds more value than a non-identification from a photo lineup from the victim.

DDA Warren cited three instances within the last two years where the accused was arrested and added the seriousness of these charges doesn’t warrant the reduction to misdemeanor.

Judge Timothy Fall ruled there was substantial evidence to keep these charges as felonies. The next court hearing will be July 14. 

About The Author

Matthew Torres is a fourth year Criminal Justice major at California State University, Sacramento expecting to graduate in Spring 2022. After graduation he will be continuing his studies in law school.

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