By Jariah Moore
WOODLAND, CA – Yolo County Superior Court Judge Tom Dyers last week denied a motion to reduce the accused’s felony charges in a preliminary hearing, despite what the defense claimed is insufficient proof regarding the value of a stolen catalytic converter.
The case was filed in 2021 when the accused allegedly stole a catalytic converter from a Ford Excursion, with another man acting as the getaway driver and another man assisting in the theft.
Both accused were charged with grand theft, a felony.
Officer Kyle Shadman, one of two officers at the scene of the crime, provided witness testimony on the events that took place that day. Part of his testimony included the victim’s estimated value of the catalytic converter.
According to Officer Shadman, the victim claimed that the catalytic converter would cost $1,800 to be replaced. The officer did not ask the victim what the basis of this value was. The value was not verified by other means.
Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan questioned the validity of this dollar estimate.
“But I also have an argument that I believe that the value of the item was not proven…I believe there is case law saying that the court can kind of take that as enough, but that does not, however, mean that the court has to take that as enough. There’s absolutely no foundation to suggest that the item itself that was stolen has a value over $950,” said the DPD.
Davtyan said, “Any search, Google would show that there’s, there’s not even a single one listed at that price range…labor could be, of course, but not the catalytic converter itself,” adding the accused has no history of violent offenses, and that she had been on good behavior for about a decade leading up to the incident.
“Her record, as far as I know, the last conviction is in 2010, possession of drugs charge, possession while in prison. I’m not aware of her having much of a recent record, nothing violent that I’m aware of…that would indicate that this is a pattern, or an ongoing pattern of behavior,” said the public defender, adding that during the two-year span that the current case had been pending, the accused had not committed any further crimes.
Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek argued the accused’s conduct during the crime still warranted the felony charges against her.
“It’s a very strange argument to say that it should be 17(b)’ed (reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor) because there are other pursuits that are worse. Just because there are other pursuits that are worse doesn’t mean that this one was not also pretty bad,” said the DDA.
He went on to claim, “In regard to her history, this is someone who’s been sentenced to prison on multiple occasions, several prison terms…It’s not as if this is someone with a clean record coming in here with this conduct.”
Judge Dyers ultimately chose to deny the defense motion to reduce the accused’s charges to a misdemeanor, explaining, “I think the underlying circumstances are egregious enough to go to the primary.”