By Taylor Smith
WOODLAND, CA – A young man presented himself in Yolo County Superior Court Friday in his case for alleged gang-related juvenile firearm and controlled substance possession charges, but Judge Dave Rosenberg decided to bring the case back to court next month after hearing from probation.
The accused, according to the prosecution, has a long-standing juvenile criminal history, and has been in custody the last three years for crimes committed when he was only 16 years old.
The accused is charged with felony possession of firearms and controlled substances in relation to alleged gang activity.
Deputy District Attorney David Wilson said the young man’s tattoos serve as explicit statements that he is part of a gang and will continue to be involved in gang activity which poses a threat to public safety if he does not go to prison immediately.
The DDA added “probation informed me that they don’t know when he got this one, but it references an area in West Sacramento that is gang-related, and as you can see here, these are also new. We don’t know exactly when he got them, but they are new to (a probation officer), who has been supervising him more or less for the last five years.”
Wilson persisted with his argument, concluding these markings are the accused’s way of identifying himself as a gang member who wants to commit violent crimes, and the court should treat him as such.
Deputy Public Defender Daniel Hutchinson rebutted on behalf of his young client, noting tattoos are no longer representative of a person’s character.
He said, “The fact that a person put on tattoos, particularly someone that is a teenager, and makes YouTube videos with guns…that does not in my mind nor my experience make someone a hardcore gang member. When do people become hardcore gang members? When they go to prison.
“In my 16 years, I cannot think of one person who has been more terrified of going to prison (than the accused), who is crying about going to prison…I say he is a wannabe because hardcore gang members don’t cry about the prospect of going to prison,” he pleaded to the court.
DPD Hutchinson explained his client’s plan is to move in with his grandmother in Sacramento and completely separate himself from his criminal past so he can prove he does not deserve to go to prison for crimes he committed as a juvenile.
Judge Rosenberg said the accused could face upwards of seven years in prison and accepted a plea on all seven counts of his cases of no contest. His sentence will depend on the probation report in court Dec. 20.