Defense Objects, but Laptop Felony Case Going to Trial

By Roni Ayalon and Brinda Kalita 

WOODLAND, CA – Despite doubts raised by the defense at a preliminary here this week in Yolo County Superior Court, a man’s case will still go to trial—at least the judge allowed the unemployed man to be free without bail before the trial.

The accused is charged with receiving stolen property and for appropriating stolen property, both of which are felonies.

The hearing started with a string of witness testimonies, many of which were from different police officers who had arrested the accused and had retrieved and analyzed the stolen items in the accused’s possession, which included a checkbook, a laptop, and a stolen backpack. 

Officers stated the accused received the laptop from a friend, and it was given to him so that he would be able to sell it and pay off a debt. The testimonies also showed that the accused believed the laptops were “not hot,” or not stolen. 

Additionally, the officers revealed the accused told them that the accused was not the one who stole the backpack and its contents. Rather, it was his friend who stole the items, whom the accused did not know very well. 

The stolen checkbook, on the other hand, was actually found by the accused in public Yolo County Housing, and the accused had actually called the local police departments so that he could return it to the owner, testified the officers.

The officers added when they confiscated the stolen laptop, they scanned the laptop’s serial number, which is a number that can determine the owner of the laptop and whether it was stolen or not. However, they were not able to track the number to any person. In fact, when they scanned the number, they found that the laptop did not even come up as stolen property. 

Additionally, the defense argued through cross-examination the laptop couldn’t be identified in connection to its owner without two passcodes being entered so there is no way the accused could have known that the laptop was stolen and did in fact belong to someone else. 

In closing arguments, Deputy Public Defender Katie Ann De Anda highlighted how the actions of the accused do not fit the legal definitions for the crimes of appropriating and stealing stolen property and argued these charges against the accused should be dropped entirely. 

She explained how appropriation of lost property is a crime for those who do not make a reasonable attempt to find the owner.

However, in this case, the defense said the accused had “no knowledge of who [the property] belonged to and how to return it, no identifiable information, even when [the laptop was] opened. Nothing could be done until two passwords were entered… The serial number showed it wasn’t stolen.” 

On the other hand, Deputy District Attorney Sherri L. Bridgeforth argued because the accused had access to the checkbook and the laptop of the victim, he could have put two and two together and contacted the victim.

She also cast doubt over the accused’s story, pointing out how the “defendant first denied ownership of the backpack and its contents, [and said he] didn’t know the contents of the backpack, [but then] claimed ownership [of the backpack] and established the sale of the backpack contents.” 

Judge Tom Dyer concluded that there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial. 

Before concluding the preliminary hearing, PD De Anda requested if the accused could be released on supervised OR instead of being held in custody, as he has housing in Yolo County and would be unable to pay the bail since he is currently unemployed.  

Additionally, she said this was not a public safety offense and that other than a misdemeanor charge in 2003, the accused did not have any criminal history. 

DDA Bridgeforth on the other hand, emphasized how “the victim would feel unsafe if the accused was released on supervised OR, as they live in close proximity to each other.”

However, PD De Anda pointed out that the victim lived in Vacaville, and that only the victim’s mailing address was in close proximity to the accused’s place of residence.

Judge Dyer sided with the defense, and released the accused on supervised OR with GPS tracking before his trial date. However, the accused is not allowed to return to the location of the victim’s mailing address. 

The trial for this case is March 22.

About The Author

Brinda is a student at UC Riverside, pursuing a degree in History with a Law and Society emphasis. She plans to attend law school after receiving her bachelors.

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