COURT WATCH: Man Denied Bail Reduction – Judge Charges ‘Enough’ Evidence of Risk if Released

By Helen Shamamyan 

MODESTO, CA – A man was denied reduction of his $350,000 bail because of his past violent crime history last week by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Robert Westbrook, who noted the accused posed enough of a flight risk and public threat to justify the high bail.

Deputy Public Defender Reed Wagner argued the bail should be reduced to a more affordable amount based on the accused’s financial status. 

The accused is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, although DPD Wagner told the judge the co-accused in the case was proven to be predominantly conducting the assault. 

Based on victim and witness testimony from the trial, insisted the DPD, the co-accused and witness were both described to be drenched in blood from the waist up, and the witness only vaguely remembered seeing the accused man at the scene with a knife in his hand, although was admittedly distracted by the presence of others at the scene of the incident.

DPD Wagner argued the conduct held against the accused was not “in line with what was actually proved.” Paired with this conflict, DPD Wagner said the accused makes $100 more than his total monthly expenses, coming out to $1,300 monthly income and $1,200 worth of costs. 

As a result, DPD Wagner insisted that $350,000 bail is not something the accused can ever realistically afford, and is an “excessive” amount for what was tied to the accused from the evidence presented.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Newton charged the accused already had two strikes from prior convictions of “violent crimes,” claiming he should not be eligible for reduced bail or release because of the public risk he poses. 

DDA Wagner countered that the accused successfully served out his parole in 2020, and no longer poses a serious public threat. 

Judge Westbrook pointed out the “burden” of proof is on the prosecution, and he believed that, although he did not get “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant is a risk, DDA Newton’s evidence was sufficient to convince him of the high “stakes” of release or reduction of bail.

Judge Westbrook added there was sufficient evidence in the previously conducted trial that made it “likely the defendant was guilty.”

Judge Westbrook concluded that he views the priors noted by the DDA to be indicative of a history of violent crimes, agreeing that this was a “three strikes case,” in denying an affordable bail amount or release.

About The Author

I am a student from Southern California that's graduating this year from UC Berkeley. Prior to coming here, I worked as a court watch/ law clerk for a PEO in worker's comp cases of California warehouses. I reported the hearing summaries and outcomes to the employer and maintained correspondence with the attornies prior to and after each hearing on behalf of my boss. I have nearly completed by Bachelors in English, and I am planning on taking a break year before delving into law school to study civil rights defense.

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