Rock Assault or Lawnmower Accident? Judge Holds Man on All Counts in Alleged Rock Throwing Incident

By Ramneet Singh

WOODLAND, CA – Judge David Reed here in Yolo County Superior Court this past week found there to be enough evidence against the accused for felony assault and other related charges, and an alleged rock throwing incident.

According to the court calendar, the first count was a felony “assault likely to produce great bodily injury” with an enhancement. The second count was a felony “inflict corporal injury on spouse/cohabitant” with two enhancements, one related to a deadly weapon.

Charges three and four involved firearm possession and the fifth charge related to ammunition; there was an enhancement for “prior felony conviction.” The date associated with these charges is April 6.

In the preliminary hearing, Jonathan Gonzales represented the accused while Deputy District Attorney Caryn Warren prosecuted.

Police Officer Hernan Vega provided testimony, initially focusing on meeting the victim at the sheriff’s office lobby, noting the victim appeared “overall, just seemed very like scared.”

He replied she had “a patch on her eye…dried blood…on her arms, on her hands.” He also noted a hospital bracelet. Vega replied she said she was concerned for her son.

Concerning the relationship, Vega relayed that they had a relationship of nine years and that the accused and the victim had a child.

Moving to the alleged incident, Vega responded to Warren, stating the victim said it happened the previous day and involved an argument related to a bill. When outside, the victim was sitting on porch stairs while the accused mowed the lawn.

He noted the victim said she “heard laughing…in a negative way” and that she believed she was struck by a rock “maybe the size of a baseball” when she wasn’t looking.

The victim said she yelled for help and the accused “was trying to keep her calm and trying to make her shut up.” The victim told the officer that the accused tried to take her inside.

Later in Warren’s questioning, Vega replied that he noticed blood on a rock and the stairs of the incident.

Vega said he was informed the accused eventually took the complaining witness/victim to the hospital, and the two did not make contact after the incident.

In the cross-examination, Gonzales questioned the timeline regarding the victim being discharged from the hospital. Officer Vega said he was informed there was a right eye injury and a concern for the return of eyesight.

Vega said the victim stated “she was verbally assaulted” multiple times and had “reported it once.” He answered that she was also concerned about firearms.

Vega answered that they found an AR-15, “an 80 percent AR-15 style rifle,” and ammunition in the home, and that the accused was not allowed to have firearms due to a prior conviction.

Vega noted the accused stated he found the firearms on the property from previous owners and kept them because the victim wanted them for safety.

Vega described how the victim was apprehensive to go to the police due to alleged threats from the accused “that she was gonna get killed.”

In the cross-examination, Officer Vega replied, “I don’t recall exactly” to the question “do you know what the threats were?”

Defense Attorney Gonzales asked about the threats, but Vega was not sure exactly when the threats occurred.

Gonzales questioned why Vega did not have information on those threats, but DDA Warren objected, citing “badgering.”

Gonzales asked questions related to the spacing and approximate distance between the victim and the accused during the incident. And he inquired about where the lawnmower and the rock were located and the documentation of those things. Gonzales asked Vega about the “pattern of blood” and the different points where the blood was.

Officer Vega affirmed the victim did not actually see the accused throw the rock.

Gonzales questioned Vega about the accused’s behavior after the injury and Vega referred back to prior testimony about the victim’s concern, and attempted to clarify Vega’s use of “verbally assaulted.” Vega replied that “it was something similar to mistreating her.”

Officer Vega noted the accused, according to the victim, was “telling her that she was pretty much worthless” or similar things. Gonzales questioned if that terminology was used and Vega replied it was not in the report, but that “verbally assaulted” was to summarize.

Gonzales asked if Vega questioned the accused’s perspective on the injury.

DDA Warren objected, but the question was allowed and Vega responded that the accused’s belief was that “the lawnmower was at an angle … where the blade could have thrown a rock.”

DDA Warren asked Officer Vega about the possibility the lawnmower threw the rock, and Vega replied that the setting of the lawnmower and the heaviness of the rock made it improbable it would happen.

Defense Attorney Gonzales objected that this line of questioning “calls for expert opinion.”

Gonzales questioned Vega’s experience and the size of the rock, which Vega used an “educated guess” to say it was two pounds. He also questioned a potential change in settings of the lawnmower.

Defense Attorney Gonzales noted “the standard’s pretty low” for a preliminary hearing, but he had doubts about whether the accused threw “a two-pound rock 25 feet away and strikes this person.”

DDA Warren discussed the injuries, the circumstances, and behavior in meeting the standard.

Judge Reed ruled the accused should answer on the counts. There was an arraignment scheduled for Oct. 4 ahead of trial setting.

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