By Ruby Mota-Garcia
WOODLAND, CA – The defense attorney in a felony jury trial sounded skeptical late last week in Yolo County Superior Court after noticing differences in a witness’ testimony from previously given statements.
The accused is charged with carrying a concealed firearm upon a person that is not the owner and a violation of a probation condition prohibiting possession of a firearm, in addition to two enhancements: prior serious felony conviction and prior felony conviction.
On the evening of Jan. 20, 2022, Probation Officer Rubin Gonzalez and partner Probation Officer Rojas said they were parked near the accused’s residence to conduct a probation visit. When the accused approached his residence, he spotted PO Gonzalez, ran away from a nearby Nissan Altima, and disappeared.
PO Gonzalez said he pursued the accused but “lost sight of him.” He then returned to his SUV and reported to dispatch the accused’s name, called for additional assistance, and gave a description of the accused and the travel location. Officer Juan Berrera arrived at the scene, spoke with PO Gonzalez, and reported surrounding the perimeter.
Probation Officer Gonzalez was questioned by Deputy Public Defender Stephen Betz about the Jan. 20, 2023 incident, and when asked about pictures taken that day of the incident, PO Gonzalez said he only took a picture of the vehicle.
DPD Betz then states that, in November of 2022, PO Gonzalez took scene photos after testifying in two hearings in this case.
“And that was because Ms. Johnson [District Attorney] asked you to take these photos, right,” asks DPD Betz. “Correct,” answered PO Gonzalez.
When questioned about making contact with PO Roja’s client before visiting the accused, PO Gonzalez said they never made contact with her client and agreed he answered the same Wednesday. DPD Betz then recalls PO Gonzalez’s previous testimony:
“When you testified on Nov. 7, 2022, in this matter, you testified under oath when you first saw [the accused], you said, ‘I just observed him walking towards his residence, waited for my partner to finish her conversation with her client, and drove over towards his residence,’ correct?”
“I don’t recall saying that, but we did not make contact with her client,” answered PO Gonzalez.
Gonzalez looked at the transcript and said, “Yeah, it does say that on there. But thinking about it more, we did not make contact with her client.”
In addition, when asked by DPD Betz when he had written the report on the incident, PO Gonzalez stated the following morning after the incident.
When DPD Betz asked in November 2022 about what time the report was written, he could not remember but knew it had been the next day.
“Okay, but you never testified previously when I asked you about the time that it was in the morning, did you,” asks DPD Betz. P.O Gonzalez answers, “ I don’t recall. I’m looking at my report. It had the date on there when I turned it in.”
Despite Deputy Public Defender Betz verifying that it was the testimony given by PO Gonzalez in November, PO Gonzalez repeatedly said it was the next morning because they have to work on the reports as soon as they get to the office.
“So now you remember it was the next morning as soon as you got to the office?” noted the DPD.
“Yes,” answered PO Gonzalez.
Later , DPD Betz asks PO Gonzales if he had documented that he whistled at the accused to which PO Gonzalez answered no. When questioned in July of 2022 and in November of 2022 he never mentioned the whistle until January of 2023, confirmed the defense.
DPD Betz asked, “You were asked questions and you never said anything about whistling at [the accused], correct?” “Correct. I just continued to replay that incident and I recalled that I did whistle to get [the accused’s] attention,” replied PO Gonzalez.