COURT WATCH: Public Defender Raises Reasonable Doubt Regarding Vehicle Theft – Was Vehicle THE Stolen Vehicle?

By Rena Abdusalam

WOODLAND, CA – At a preliminary hearing for a vehicle theft case late last week here in Yolo County Superior Court, Deputy Public Defender Daniel Hutchinson raised reasonable doubt about whether the vehicle found was the vehicle stolen.

Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian called Nolan Nagle, a West Sacramento police officer, to the stand. Officer Nagle said he assisted last Jan. 30 with a stolen vehicle report, contacted the concerned party, River City Auto Sales, and learned a 2010 Dodge Charger worth about $6,000 was stolen.

Although another officer located the alleged stolen vehicle, Officer Nagle stated he did see the automobile at one point.

DDA Kian asked if there was any sort of damage done to it, which Officer Nagle denied.

During cross-examination, DPD Hutchinson asked if there was a key present in the vehicle when found, which Officer Nagle also denied.

When asked if the reporter of the vehicle was interested in prosecution, Officer Nagle replied, “No.” When the DPD asked for a reason, Officer Nagle recalled that the reporter did not give him one.

Mitchell Williams, another West Sacramento police officer, said he assisted with the investigation when he was dispatched near an intersection where a reportedly stolen 2010 Black Dodge Charger was located.

During his investigation of the car, Officer Williams stated that no one exited the stopped automobile. He also recollected that there was no damage done.

Williams recalled that there was one person in the Dodge Charger. On DDA Kian’s request, the police officer identified the accused as the individual in the vehicle.

Williams also stated the reason the accused gave for being in the vehicle was that he was changing his pants and someone gave him permission to change his pants in the vehicle.

After DDA Kian’s examination, DPD Hutchinson did not cross Officer Williams.

Following the officer’s statement, the DDA argued both testimonies satisfied evidence for both charges, stating all elements and facts present count to a holding order.

 “I apologize if I’m incorrect, but was there any evidence this was the vehicle stolen? I don’t recall hearing that,” replied DPD Hutchinson.

The DDA responded that both testimonies described the same 2010 Black Dodge Charger.

“But, was there any testimony that this was the Dodge Charger stolen?” continued the DPD.

Judge Samuel McAdam acknowledged the fact that the license plate or the vin number was not regarded.

However, DDA Kian argued there was competent evidence to support that it was the same Black Dodge Charger and evaluating if it wasn’t would be something a jury would decide. The DDA also noted Officer Nagle, who talked with the reporter about the description of the vehicle, saw it at one point.

“Correct. But I did not hear any statement that this was the same Dodge Charger,” replied DPD Hutchinson, claiming that the method of Williams’s dispatch was “multiple levels of hearsay” and his testimony was only relevant to what the officer did.

“People still have to ask the question: is this the car that was stolen?” DPD Hutchinson asked.

Although Judge McAdam agreed the officers should have been more efficient on evidence, he ultimately decided to proceed with the holding orders for the charges.

An arraignment following the prelim will be held on June 8 to set the case for trial.

About The Author

Rena is a junior at Davis Senior High School and is currently exploring her interest in the criminal justice system. After high school, she plans to attend college and continue to pursue a career in law.

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