By Ramneet Singh
WOODLAND, CA – Yolo County Superior Court Judge Tom Dyer this week held the accused to answer at trial for three counts of “assault with firearm” and their related enhancements—key testimony at the preliminary hearing came from one of the alleged victims.
The enhancements involved the “use of a firearm” for the first three counts. The fourth count was listed as “discharge firearm—gross negligence.”
The record for the accused listed a “prior felony conviction” enhancement as well.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Serafin called a non-law enforcement witness and questioned him about his perspective on the alleged incident.
It was established the witness was at a location he referred to as the “pyramid plaza” around midnight of Feb. 20. He said there were other groups in the area, and said he knew some people in one of the groups.
He was hanging out with a friend in the car when, he testified, there was a fight that he attempted to break up. After he left, he said “there were gunshots fired.”
He noted he knew two of the people involved, but did not know what caused the fight to occur. He said there was a gun and another weapon, but he didn’t know the people who had them.
The witness clarified he heard gunshots after they got back into the car. After going through the exit of the parking structure, he said he saw the accused “swinging (the gun) around” in front of them.
He did note he noticed the gun on the accused during the fight, and that the accused was “brandishing” the gun and “aiming at things, not necessarily with any kind of…direction.”
The witness added he never saw the accused fire the weapon, and said the accused’s girlfriend stopped the accused from doing so.
The witness answered questions about a person he knew who was involved in the fight. He responded that they hid behind a truck and ran away. Later, he said he noticed the truck damage.
Throughout the cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan asked clarifying questions about the location and circumstances.
The witness answered there were two groups of people. He noted the group of six involved the people he knew. He did testify he wasn’t sure of the number of gun shots. The witness affirmed that he wasn’t sure if anyone else had a weapon.
The second witness was Police Officer Ricardo Ramirez, who said he heard someone yell and thought it was “from Waterplace Court.”
He added he found the person, who was identified as the accused, yelling at a car. He later received a dispatch of “a disturbance”
The officer said he found a vehicle with a broken window, but it was not the same one the accused yelled at in his follow-up to an individual who said he was shot at by someone.
The officer said he detained the accused at “Third Street and Waterfront Place” and tried contacting the reporting individual.
Referring to the first witness, the officer stated “he initially heard two to three gunshots” before they got in the vehicle. He also replied there was a “second round of gunshots” as they reversed in the parking garage.
The officer confirmed damage to at least two vehicles. One belonged, testified the officer, to an individual who initially contacted the officer, and said he saw the accused shoot the gun at the vehicle. The officer did not find damage to the body and could not determine if the windshield damage was due to gunfire.
In cross-examination, DPD Davtyan asked clarifying questions about the individual who claimed he was shot at and the vehicle damage. The officer replied he could not determine the identity and said he was “not cooperative.”
Ramirez confirmed he spoke with the accused and that he told him that “other people were shooting as well,” according to Davtyan. Ramirez answered they did not check anyone else.
In redirect, Serafin asked if they had looked for other guns, which they had but could not find anything.
DDA Serafin asked Officer Jonas Eiremo, the next witness, about a security officer who was working. According to Eiremo, the officer heard two gunshots; the person who fired them allegedly “was wearing a red shirt.”
Serafin asked Officer Mitchell Williams about the shell casings and where they were found. She also focused on the in-field show up, where the accused was identified.
Davtyan wanted to clarify where the casings were found and Williams pointed them out on a map.
Before Davtyan’s argument, it was clarified who the victims were, including the first witness and his friend.
DPD Davtyan argued there was not enough to charge for assault, referencing the first witness’ testimony. Davtyan said that “he said that he never saw [the accused] shoot at anybody specifically.”
Davtyan said that the statement which indicated there was a shooting at the car was “not credible.”
After mentioning the shooting at the car, he submitted on one of the counts and Count 4. However, for the witness and his friend, Davtyan claimed a lack of evidence.
Davtyan disputed the majority of the aggravating factors, arguing that they “are used to bump up the crime from a potential midterm exposure to upper term and so the facts have to be in aggravation of the elements.”
He stated that “there’s nothing above that to indicate that this case has that high degree of cruelty, viciousness other than the elements being met.”
He argued against other factors, including one related to convictions.
DDA Serafin responded the accused “is charged with three separate assaults and I think at sentencing, if he’s convicted of all three, and the court wanted to give him concurrent terms I think the court could elect an upper term instead of sentencing him consecutively.”
She stated that for Counts 1 and 2, the pointing of the gun met the threshold and expanded on the situation. She brought up Ramirez’s testimony that there were shots after the two tried exiting the structure.
In stating “it’s a closer call with (the first witness) as far as sufficient evidence,” Judge Dyer found enough evidence for all three counts and their enhancements, plus the fourth count, for a trial to be held.
The judge “sustained” some of the aggravating factors, but not all. One which he did not was “prior convictions.”