COURT WATCH:  Defense Argues ‘Confusing’ Police Reports, Wins Temporary Bail Reduction for Unemployed Accused with Heart Issues

By Audrey Sawyer

MODESTO, CA – In a Thursday bail review hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court for a man accused of shooting at another vehicle, bail was temporarily reduced to $100,000 from the initial $175,000 set.

But Judge Dawna Reeves told the accused’s defense counsel that if the preliminary hearing ends up suggesting the accused is the shooter, bail will be increased.

One of the concerns from defense regarding bail is the accused, aged 25 and having previously received a heart transplant in 2022, currently is unemployed and living with his mother.

In addition to the accused’s health issues, police reports were described during the bail review as “unclear” and “confusing” at different points by both defense and prosecution.

Alternate defender Beth Lee submitted a financial declaration to the court which explained that the accused had previously been a warehouse worker, but that he currently was unemployed, residing with his mother, and that the accused had received a heart transplant in 2022.

While the accused was noted to be receiving medication in custody (which is administered in the morning and at night), Lee informed the court that the accused would not be able to make his annual appointment on June 4 meant to check on how his heart is doing.

“He could make bail if the bail was posted at a lower amount than the current $175,000. He does have family in the audience in support of his release, and that would be able to help out financially,” Lee stated.

Deputy District Attorney Yasameen Sharifi opposed any sort of bail reduction or release, charging there was a warrant in 2017 for an assault likely to cause great bodily injury and the accused had pleaded to a 29800 (felon in possession of firearm) when he was currently on probation.

DDA Sharifi added the accused had pleaded to one of the felonies in December 2022, and acknowledged the 2017 case.

“In the current case, the defendant along with the co-defendant, they are shooting at another vehicle using various semiautomatic weapons. The vehicle was occupied, both vehicles were driving at the time, we have surveillance videos from the incident. The accused was actually in another unoccupied vehicle struck by the gunfire as well. The accused was identified in the surveillance videos by his mother.”

Judge Reeves questioned how many felonies were currently on the accused’s record, to which the most recent was mentioned to be from 2022, and the other from 2017.

Alternate defender Lee informed the judge she had received a plea from the accused back in 2017, about which she assumes he had completed the violation, since no additional violations had been filed. The 2022 case involved possession of a firearm, which the accused is currently on probation for committing.

Judge Reeves pointed out the accused is 25 with two felonies before inquiring the nature of the dispute from the reports that had caused gunfire.

DDA Sharifi admitted the police report written was a bit “unclear,” but that it appears as if it was not a road rage incident and the parties knew each other, adding, “The vehicle the defendants were in was parked outside of the accused’s house. They get into the vehicle before another vehicle comes by, and they then start shooting at that other vehicle.

“They get into the vehicle. When the silver vehicle drives by, they do a U-turn, both defendants exit the vehicle. There is a video of the incident. Silver vehicle had fled and was not located, and the unoccupied vehicle was struck by the defendant’s gunfire as well.”

However, Lee stated they perceived the nature of the evidence differently, noting the reports were a bit confusing, arguing, “The report references a video but there is also difficulty in viewing that video, as some parts are in black and white. The part where one says ‘that is my son,’ my client was in the front yard which is where he was identified.”

Adding on to the unclear reports, Lee explained she believed the vehicle was described as either “red or black” as described as the individual who was shooting. But it was possible that her client was the passenger, based on her own interpretation of the reports.

DDA Sharifi told the court that apparently there were other gunshots. A witness, the brother of the accused, said their residence was shot up prior to this incident on that day, and that it was “not clear as to who was in the other vehicle the defendant allegedly shot at, or who came towards the residence and shot at the residence first.”

Judge Reeves asked, “Is defense correct in that the police report seems to suggest a different person was responsible for the shooting and that the defendant participated by being a passenger?”

Defense had cited a portion of the report where the officer describes two men (co-accused and accused) seen walking back to a black vehicle. The accused is noted to be in the passenger seat, with the other co-accused in the driver’s seat.

The defense said the report suggests a silver car is traveling through, it slows down when seeing the black vehicle and begins to make a U-turn, the co-accused gets out of the vehicle, there is then “multiple muzzled flashes seen” and the driver of the vehicle was seen shooting a firearm toward the silver vehicle.

Judge Reeves said her concern was that the accused is 25 and already has two felonies, one for “assaultive behavior” and the second one prohibiting him from owning a firearm.

“He is now convicted of having a firearm back in 2022, something he is already on probation for,” said the judge, noting the accused’s health issues in addition to his inability to pay.

The judge lowered bail to $100,000 on tentative conditions (abiding by all laws, remaining searchable, showing up to all court dates) up until the preliminary hearing.

Judge Reeves added, however, there will be another bail review after the evidence is reviewed in the preliminary hearing; if the evidence suggests the accused is the alleged shooter, she will raise bail.

Another case management conference is set for June 12.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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