COURT WATCH: Accused Raises Concerns in Resentencing Hearing Over Evidence Missing from Discovery

By Sunny Zhou

MODESTO, CA – Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves late last week denied a self-representing accused’s request for the prosecution to turn over missing pieces of discovery in preparation for a resentencing hearing.

The accused had been previously convicted for first degree robbery, carjacking, illegal possession of a firearm, and evading a police officer. He appeared in court last week for a resentencing hearing at the direction of the Fifth District Court of Appeals.

Judge Reeves proceeded to verify whether the accused had what he needed from the prosecution to proceed with resentencing, asking the prosecution, “What’s the status of reproviding the discovery disks?”

Assistant District Attorney Sara Sousa replied, “I’ve provided [the defense] with all of the reports and hard copy…I provided [the defense] with a blue ray disk containing maybe 1400 to 1500 hundred of items on”

“[The accused] submitted a motion earlier in the week..on exhibits,” she continued. “I then went and grabbed all the court exhibits we entered into evidence and put everything on a disk…from the court trial.”

DA Sousa noted, “However, [the defense] is specifically requesting items from ID tech Aaron Gonzales with respect to latent print cards and specific identifiers as it relates to what ID tech Gonzales collected in order to compare those prints.”

“He’s also requesting DOJ information that was collected by ID tech Gonzales, and exemplars obtained at the preliminary hearing with respect to prints,” she continued. “[The defense] is indicating to me that the latent print cards were not provided to him in the court exhibit discovery I had sent him, but I thought they were.”

“For the purposes of resentencing, the People would argue that the latent print cards and the items that [the defense] specifically is requesting as it relates to his fingerprints is not necessarily relevant. I understand [the accused] wants all of the relevant information, however the case has already been tried, the jury has already found him guilty.”

“[T]he People have provided…with…as much evidence as we could have provided to him considering this is for a resentencing hearing and not for re-litigation for the issues at trial,” DA Sousa concluded.

Judge Reeves asked the defense what information that he requested that he had not received.

The accused responded, “I haven’t received [trial] exhibit 71 through 76 is missing…from the records she gave me.”

“Then at trial, it was testified to by ID tech Gonzales about a second file she’s holding on fingerprint evidence that the defense was never provided, that was held at the ID lab, not at the Modesto PD lab as it was supposed to,” the accused pointed out, “[A]and during the trial she testified to these things as facts that she has DOJ information she collected during her first comparison, and the CalAphis discovery that she collected.”

Judge Reeves noted, “You sent a notice to the court that was saying there were a few other things that you were missing, I want to make sure we covered everything. There’s something here that says you wanted a transcript from May 11, 2015?”

“Yeah, a Marsden motion,” said the accused.

“It was provided to you on February the first, 2022,” Judge Reeves responded. She directed the bailiff to hand the order she signed authorizing the transfer of the Marsden transcript to the defense.

“That was delivered to me in prison. That’s in my prison property,” the accused clarified.

The judge queried, “So the trial exhibits 71-76, do you know what they are? And can you tell me…how that relates to you representing yourself for sentencing?

“Not sure, it just says missing on the disc. That it’s based on fingerprint evidence. I’m going with being sentenced on materially false evidence,” the accused clarified. “So my 1385 [motion] to the court requesting they use their discretion…I need it to support my argument.”

A 1385 motion allows a judge to dismiss a case “in furtherance of justice.”

“Can you tell me again how it relates to sentencing?” Judge Reeves questioned. “You’re saying you want to challenge the conviction when you say it relates to your false evidence, meaning you’re challenging the conviction.”

“The fingerprint evidence is the nucleus of this case,” the accused said. “ID tech Gonzales testified to their existence, as being fact, and we were never provided this. We asked for this numerous times before trial, it was never provided to us.”

“I have limited jurisdiction given to me by the appellate court,” Judge Reeves began. “The only thing I’m only going to be able to entertain is to resentence you.  You can’t attack the conviction in trial court at this juncture…So right now I’m trying to make sure you have what you need to go forward with what I can do, and what I can do is resentence you.”

“I’m trying to make sure the court doesn’t sentence me on materially false information,” the accused reiterated.

“I understand that, but the conviction has been affirmed, and I’m going to sentence you on the convictions as they stand,” Judge Reeves responded, “and if you want to challenge those convictions you have to do that in the appellate court, not here.”

“Even if the facts don’t support what you’re sentencing me on?” the accused questioned.

“I don’t want to go back and forth with you, I’m telling you what I can do,” Judge Reeves responded. “If you think it’s necessary for something else you need to do you’re welcome to pursue that.”

She continued, “The secondary file that you say is held by ID tech that has to do with Department of Justice information that she collected – that also bears on the underlying conviction…I don’t see how it bears on resentencing. So I’m not going to order that the People dig that up and give that to you.”

“The…transcript of the Marsden has been provided to you before, I don’t see how it relates to resentencing either, so I’m not going to order that to be provided to you,” added the judge, asking if the accused wanted to say anything else.

The accused responded, “I have a right to file…a request to give you the facts why to exercise your discretion, right?”

“You have a right to file a brief,” Judge Reeves responded,”…you certainly do. And a 1385 request, I need those to support my contentions in that request.”

“I think you’ve been given more than enough information…if there’s something in particular that’s missing other than those three things I’m willing to hear it. But otherwise I don’t see what else I can give to let you prepare for what I can do and that’s resentencing,” Judge Reeves concluded.

The resentencing hearing will reconvene May 12.

About The Author

Sunny is a third year Political Science student at UC Davis. She is passionate about the intersection between law, justice, and creative media. In her spare time, she enjoys watching films, playing TTRPGs, and creating animated shorts.

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