Defense Attorney Claims Prosecution Overcharged 20-Year-Old to Appease Victim of Alleged Theft – Jury Verdict Expected

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By Alyssa Eng

WOODLAND, CA – A Yolo County Superior Court jury is expected to deliver a verdict in a felony second degree burglary and grand theft trial Monday after it heard closing arguments last week.

Alexander John Ruyle, a 20-year-old at the time of the alleged crime, had turned himself into the police after assisting a father-son team in stealing from an abandoned structure, according to court records.

During the jury instructions, Judge Tom Dyer informed the jury that a second degree burglary conviction requires that two things be proven beyond a reasonable doubt: that the accused entered into a building and that he did so with the intent to commit burglary. He also informed the jury that grand theft is the taking of a person’s property valued at $950 or more.

In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens noted video footage shown during the trial that appears to show the accused, along with the two others, carrying stolen property to a truck multiple times.

The DDA acknowledged the video footage does not show the structure where the items were housed, so it is not clear who did or did not enter the building.

The prosecutor argues the accused is the direct perpetrator who entered the building at some point during the theft, or at the very least is guilty of aiding and abetting the burglary. 

He reminded the jury that they do not have to agree on the degree of his involvement, only that the standards for burglary have been proven.

Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira argued the stolen property was part of a trust that is currently being stored while its distribution is decided upon.

She referred to a collection of emails sent by the executor of the trust to the police, stating it is clear he is growing increasingly insistent that something be done about multiple other thefts that have occurred over time.

The DPD asserted to the jury “instead of the government just charging [the accused] for what he did—which was theft—they want more than that… because they have a farmer, who’s a property owner, who’s very upset that he keeps getting stuff stolen from him.”

She claimed the standards for burglary have not been met, as there is no evidence that the accused actually entered the building.

As to the DDA’s aiding and abetting argument, DPD Sequeira explained it is not clear whether or not the accused was informed enough about the nature of the crime beforehand to have intent to commit burglary rather than theft.

Her closing argument continued with a reminder to the jury that the accused is not the mastermind in this case, but “the person who cooperated with law enforcement.”

While she does concede her client is guilty of theft, the DPD urged the jury to find the accused not guilty on the burglary charge. She argued the DDA is just looking for anyone to be held accountable, regardless of whether or not the charges reflect what actually occurred.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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