COURT WATCH: Judge Denies Misdemeanor Reduction, Grants Potential Release to Hope Cooperative

By Ramneet Singh

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Tom Dyer in Yolo County Superior Court last Friday denied an accused’s request to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor, but would consider conditional release depending on the room availability at Hope Cooperative.

The accused faced $10,000 bail, but the judge said he’d considered supervised no bail release. For now the accused is in jail.

In his argument, Deputy Public Defender Jonathan Opet said, “the damage of the vandalism…from this hearing being right around $400, so it’s right on the border of a felony and misdemeanor.”

The felony count was vandalism and the misdemeanor count involved false identification, with a prior felony enhancement.

Through court testimony, the vandalism allegedly concerned electrical wires, a chain link fence, a sign, and a package of water bottles. The second count was when the accused provided law enforcement a different name and date of birth.

Deputy District Attorney Aaron Rojas asked Woodland Police Officer Sergio Jacobo about his response to a Quik Stop on April 18. Jacobo responded the owner had not told him if he and the accused had had contact before, but told him about surveillance.

There were a few sustained objections through this part of testimony, concerning a lack of foundation and the identification of the accused.

Jacobo stated that the owner knew of the accused due to a prior incident. The owner recognized the accused as he walked by the business when the officer was present.

In that instance and prior, Jacobo stated the owner recognized the accused due to his clothing.

Jacobo said the incidents of vandalism happened on different days, ranging from April 13 to April 17. He saw footage for the incidents involving the wires and the water bottle package.

The estimated cost of repairs for the wires was $400, for the fence it was $1000, for the sign it was $750.

Jacobo stated the owner identified who damaged the sign based on prior incidents, but later, the owner stated he did not have footage of the fence being damaged.

Jacobo said the accused believed “he hadn’t done anything.”

In the cross examination, DPD Opet asked questions concerning identification. Jacobo responded the owner had identified the individual to dispatch but not to him.

For both the sign and the fence, Jacobo confirmed the owner did not see who damaged them. He affirmed Opet’s suggestion this was just an assumption.

DPD Opet asked for reduction to a misdemeanor and if not, “make factual findings that there was insufficient evidence of vandalism” by the accused as to the fence and the sign.

Opet described how the $400 dollars was just an estimate and how in his experience “is usually a little bit higher than what the actual repair costs are.”

DDA Rojas cited 20 years of contact between the accused and law enforcement and a conviction in December for opposing the misdemeanor reduction.

For the second request, Rojas argued that “I think we can give (the owner) the benefit of the doubt that he was able to identify” the accused due to experience and surveillance.

DPD Opet would later clarify the December conviction was based on a 2020 incident and “(the accused) spent most of that time either in custody or at the state hospital.”

Judge Tom Dyer denied the misdemeanor reduction, stating the dollar amount was over the threshold and the accused’s history. For the factual findings, Dyer noted the assumptions made about the fence and sign, therefore they were not part of the holding order.

DPD Opet asked for supervised no bail release if a bed were to open at Hope Cooperative, which provides care for people with mental illness.

The public defender noted he had not utilized services before, but the accused would have “housing, psychiatric care, case management and other appropriate services.”

DDA Rojas was hesitant because he hadn’t utilized those services before. DPD Opet described an open service model and how the accused is willing to accept those services now.

DPD Opet believed “that will be a significant improvement in his quality of life and his behavior.”

The next court date is May 18.

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