COURT WATCH: Accused’s Trial Finally Begins After Months in Jail with High Bail

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA – An accused man finally began trial here this week in Yolo County Superior Court, but only after he’s been refused release, had unreasonable bail set and watched as his trial has been routinely delayed for months.

The charge is from June 4, and the accused allegedly committed carjacking by taking a vehicle from someone through the use of fear. The accused has pleaded not guilty to the complaint and has been in jail in the custody of the sheriff for a bail amount of $100,000.

The arraignment for the case was July 26. During the arraignment, a motion for Supervised Own Recognizance was argued by the defense and denied. The trial was initially set for Sept. 11 for three days. However, on Nov. 6, the jury was vacated and a new trial set for Dec. 4.

On Dec. 4, the jury trial was set to begin on Dec. 11 due to last-minute motions that were set by both the Deputy Public Defender Jonathon Opet and the Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian.

As of this past Monday, Dec. 11, jury selection was still underway. There were two hearings for the accused during the day. During the first hearing, it was revealed that certain motions were denied on Dec. 4.

One denied motion was to exclude the vehicle owner’s pretrial identification of the accused as the person who took his car. The second motion that was denied was a motion to exclude witness certainty testimony and argument.

The few motions that were granted on the side of the defense included: a motion to bifurcate the circumstances, a motion to exclude testimony about police questioning, and a motion to exclude any identification of the accused as the person seen on the traffic camera video.

Judge Timothy L. Fall swore in the jury. During one of the many required statements presented in court he said that “because (the accused) is presumed innocent, the defense does not need to prove that he is not guilty… any prior convictions should not influence your decision.”

According to DDA Kian, the accused was seen opening the door of the victim’s car, dropping off the victim and driving away. The next day, one of the deputies spotted the car and the accused getting into it. When the accused was captured, the victim was asked if he recognized the accused. The accused was allegedly identified by the victim.

According to the defense, the officers did not follow normal protocol when the accused was presented to the victim for identification. The accused was also allegedly difficult to identify due to the circumstances and the video quality from the surveillance tapes.

The proceedings will be ongoing this week.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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