COURT WATCH: Judge Denies Grieving Accused’s Request for Temporary Release to Attend Brother’s Funeral

By Madison Whittemore

WOODLAND, CA – A Black man facing sentencing for vandalism, theft, and possession of firearm charges from March 2022 requested Monday here in Yolo County Superior Court he be released from custody for a few days on Supervised Own Recognizance (SOR) to attend his brother’s funeral.

The accused is currently in custody and is awaiting Jan. 18 sentencing to an eight-year stipulated prison sentence, decided upon in Adult Intervention Court (AIC), under Judge Janene Beronio.

The accused “said that his brother had died and he wanted to get out briefly just in order to go to the funeral,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven explained to Judge Samuel McAdam.

Despite acknowledging and empathizing with the circumstances the accused faces with the loss of his brother, DDA Raven asserted he concurred with probation officer Amy Fichtner’s very “detailed workup” on the accused’s case which encouraged Judge McAdam to deny the temporary release.

However, the accused, represented by Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke, pleaded once more to Judge McAdam, with DPD Gocke attempting to provide evidence establishing the accused’s brother’s death.

“He [the accused] did provide me with the website for his business that had photos of the different employees…there did seem to be a family resemblance…indicating that there is that relation,” DPD Gocke noted, also adding the accused “was distraught in court last week when advised of the passing of this close relation of his.”

DPD Gocke also explained he had confirmed the death through multiple other family members.

According to the accused’s family, the memorial service will take place between Wednesday and Saturday of this week, with the accused only requesting release on SOR for a few days.

DPD Gocke argued his client would not be a threat to public safety, has never committed any “specific crimes of violence in terms of violence towards any individual,” and was willing to abide by any terms of temporary release the court would impose on him.

“He has significant consequences hanging over his head,” DPD Gocke noted, explaining to Judge McAdam and DDA Raven how any failure to surrender after release would lead to the accused losing “significant credits.”

After considering arguments by DDA Raven, DPD Gocke and probation officer Fichtner’s report, Judge McAdam denied the accused’s request for temporary release on SOR.

“This is not really a close call at this point,” Judge McAdam asserted, citing the accused’s past struggles with substance abuse as well as his concerns with the accused failing to surrender after temporary SOR terminates.

The accused appeared to be emotional and visibly distressed regarding the denial of release.

“Nobody is doubting that the defendant is grieving for his close relationship and this is just the legal consequences of where we’re at,” Judge McAdam stated, trying to console the accused as he was escorted out of the courtroom and placed back into custody by the bailiff.

About The Author

Madison Whittemore is a rising junior at the University of California, Davis where she studies political science and psychology. After completing her undergraduate studies, Madison wants to go to law school and study criminal law while working to improve efforts for prison reform and representation for lower income citizens.

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