Man’s Request for Pre-Trial Funeral Leave Denied because of Extensive History of Failure to Appear

By Tommy Nguyen 

VENTURA, CA – The accused—facing felony arms charges—asked a Ventura County Superior Court judge this week for leave to attend his grandmother’s funeral; he was flatly turned down because of his alleged inability to return to court and stay out of trouble.

The accused is charged with felony possession of firearm and ammunition, to which he pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Assistant Public Defender Matthew Benitez began the hearing by confirming the certification from the funeral services as well as the timeline for the accused’s leave and when he would remand himself back to custody.

Without hesitation, Deputy District Attorney Kelly Keenan opposed the counsel’s request for release.

“The defendant overdosed on an opiate; and when we approached him after he overdosed, he had a loaded 0.89 millimeter ghost gun in his possession,” DDA Keenan explained. “He also has an extensive criminal history of strike convictions.”

The accused was raging at the prosecution’s comment and PD Benitez had to calm him down before DDA Keenan could continue.

He recalled that the release request initially came from the accused’s girlfriend, instead of any direct family member of the deceased, which is important to consider.

“[The accused] did not have any police contact in the in-room, he does have strong ties to the community, and he would avail himself of a remand request as well,” Benitez explained.

He also confirmed that the initial documentation actually came from a chaplain with the Sheriff’s Dept., who verified that the information was provided by the accused’s family member.

The defense counsel also suggested that in case the court is not inclined toward a 24-hour leave, it could consider having the accused remand himself the same day right after finishing his business. It would be a shorter term, and he would be obeying any terms ordered by the court.

The accused is a life-long resident of Ventura County, but he was trying to remove himself from the negative influences in the community, first by getting a job in Moreno Valley, according to the counsel.

PD Benitez then mentioned the accused scored “moderate” on the Ohio Risk Assessment System, which further supports his belief the accused will turn himself back into custody, either in court or at the jail, by himself.

However, Judge Patricia Murphy responded that the only information she can rely on for the purposes of determining whether or not the accused would comply to the court’s order is from the pretrial risk assessment.

“In addition to a number of failures to appear last year on multiple cases, he [the accused] does have a long history of failing to obey lawful orders of law enforcement [that traces back to 2010],” Judge Murphy said. “In light of the recent failures to appear, unfortunately, I’m not convinced that he will comply with the court’s orders or the promises that he made to the court.”

As a result, the funeral leave request was denied. The accused was remanded back to the custody of the sheriff’s office. 

About The Author

Tommy is a sophomore majoring in Economics and minoring in Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He is an international student from Vietnam and fueled with the frustration agaisnt flawed justice system that lets down the minority. He is aspired to become a criminal justice attorney and will hopefully attend law school in 2025.

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