Judge won't dismiss 75 River case, but says he may sanction DA's office for ongoing issues with evidence
SANTA CRUZ -
On the eve of a scheduled preliminary hearing for the defendants, Burdick on Friday grew frustrated with ongoing complaints by the defense that the prosecution hadn't complied with all of their requests for the video footage associated with the case. He vacated the preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday and ordered the prosecution to show good cause as to why he shouldn't dismiss the case all together.
Becky Johnson, Robert Norse, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, Cameron Laurendeau, Brent Adams, Franklin Alcantara and Desiree Foster are charged with felony conspiracy, vandalism and misdemeanor trespass stemming from the nearly-72-hour occupation of the former Wells Fargo building at 75 River St. late last year. Charges were previously dismissed against four other people.
Flanked by fellow prosecutors Jeff Rosell and David Sherman, assistant district attorney Rebekah Young explained Monday that she'd had numerous technological difficulties with duplicating some of the DVDs provided by Santa Cruz police.
"Our IT person thought to create a YouTube channel with the footage but that apparently was not acceptable either (to the defense attorneys,)" Young said Monday.
She also said she'd offered for the defense attorneys to come view the footage at her office any time, which some of the defense attorneys argued wasn't true. With mounting pressure from the court, prosecutors on Friday decided to upload all footage to external hard drives to be provided to each attorney.
Burdick said he was frustrated that the prosecution hadn't taken action until "the 11th hour," but said the seriousness of the crimes committed during the takeover precluded him from dismissing the case over prosecutorial issues.
He said he will determine a suitable sanction for the District Attorney's Office, possibly financial though possibly pertaining to evidence that will be allowed in, at the start of the preliminary hearing. That hearing is now scheduled for Jan.7, more than a year since the building was occupied from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2011.
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