Judge Finds Sufficient Evidence, Despite Defense Claim of  Inconsistencies, in Preliminary Examination Hearing  


By Leslie Acevedo

MODESTO, CA – Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves found sufficient evidence Tuesday in a preliminary examination despite inconsistencies to believe an accused was the suspect in an armed robbery case and should face trial.

Modesto Police Detective Brandon Bertram’s testimony focused on the accused tattoos of a skull and name of her daughter, matching tattoos of the woman responsible for the armed robbery.

Deputy District Attorney M. Garcia presented photographs of the accused tattoos, and still photos of the robbery, showing the connection between the accused tattoos and those during the commission of the crime.

Det. Bertram described a search conducted on the accused residence in the bedroom, showing a pair of Toms shoes which were discovered, matching the description of shoes worn in the armed robbery.

Despite approximately 48 years of experience, he said he was not  able to, regarding the firearm, “differentiate whether it was an actual firearm or replica firearm.”

If the firearm was a replica, it would have had some sort of descriptive component indicating not an actual firearm. Despite this, the circumstances of the firearm were taken into consideration.

Alternate Defender Rachel Elizabeth Bills noted inconsistencies about Det. Bertram’s testimony.

Bills said Det. Bertram would only be able to tell the difference between a real or replica gun if he were to physically examine the weapon. Replica firearms are often manufactured with orange tips on the slide or orange barrel, oftentimes barrels are manufactured that are not consistent with a firearm, not having rifling components seen in the barrel.

The male occupant could not recall whether or not he had seen the accused wearing the Toms shoes, noting she moved her belongings out a day or so prior.

Det. Bertram became aware of the accused as a possible suspect prior to using photographic lineups with the victim. There were no tips from the community, but an independent source had given police the accused’s name. Det. Bertram did not speak directly with the source; the information was related to him by another detective.

The victim, said the defense, said two different people potentially could be suspects.

DDA Garcia. on the day of the offense, said a woman with the same exact tattoos entered a Chevron gas station, pointed a firearm, demanded money, and the victim gave it to her in fear of being shot over $651.00.

Garcia said the victim believed it to be an operable firearm, not a replica, adding, “Every element of PC  211 had been fulfilled and enhancement based on photographs, testimony of the victim, testimony of Det. Bertram firearm was real during commission of crime to get money handed over.”

Alternate Defender Bills focused her argument on the enhancement, revealing inconsistencies on whether or not it was a replica firearm, given the firearm was never recovered, and maintaining the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof.

Judge Dawna Reeves found the prosecution had provided sufficient evidence to find the accused guilty of armed robbery.


About The Author

Leslie Acevedo is a senior undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach, majoring in Criminology/Criminal Justice. She intends to pursue a Master's Degree in Forensic Science or Criminal Justice. She aspires to become a forensic investigator.

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