- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—STOCKTON — Labeling it a “fishing expedition,” the judge hearing the Bank of the West robbery case denied a defense motion Monday afternoon seeking the identities of two of the 19 members of the grand jury that indicted Jaime Ramos and Pablo Ruvalcaba last December.

Defense attorney Jonathan Fattarsi’s motion cited in particular one grand juror’s possible bias because he lived near where the chase reached its deadly conclusion July 16, 2014.

Fattarsi argued that questioning of the juror revealed he had been “frightened” by the events that occurred near his home in north Stockton, and that the fear could have swayed his judgment.

“I can’t think of any circumstance where a juror witnessed any portion of a case and was allowed to sit on a jury,” Fattarsi told Judge Bernard Garber.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau disagreed. Himelblau said the grand juror insisted when questioned that he could be “fair and impartial.”

“He never said he was scared,” Himelblau added. “What he said was it was a scary situation. That’s a fairly neutral statement.”

Garber read out loud the transcript of the testimony by the grand juror when he was examined by a prosecutor last year about his ability to serve on the Bank of the West case.

“I live right behind where it happened,” the grand juror testified. “So I was there right after (the climax) and that was all I saw, not any of the chase … It’s a scary thing … it was right in my backyard. … I think I could be fair and impartial but it does bother me … just the whole thing, I mean, the whole thing bothers me.”

Garber said grand jurors invariably are “given a significant amount of secrecy,” forfeiting it only if found guilty of malfeasance in the carrying out of their duties. The judge ruled that was not the case in this situation and denied the defense motion.

“I don’t think the threshold has been reached by the defense,” Garber said. “I think it is a fishing expedition.”

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Ramos, who is suspected in the robbery, kidnapping and chase that ended in the death of hostage Misty Holt-Singh.

Prosecutors also are seeking a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for Ruvalcaba, who they say dropped off the gunmen before the robbery.

The hearing came on the same day Kelly Huber, manager of the Bank of the West branch, said Ramos had shot her as she was driving her sport utility vehicle away from the robbery as one of the robbers’ hostages. When the D.A.’s office announced earlier this year it would seek the death penalty against Ramos, Fattarsi had said he was disappointed with the decision, in part because “we’re not dealing with someone who actually did any of the shooting,” he told The Record.

Ramos and Ruvalcaba will return to court at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 17, when Garber is scheduled to hear a discovery motion made by the suspects’ attorneys.

— Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or [email protected] Follow him at recordnet.com/phillipsblog and on Twitter @rphillipsblog.

___

(c)2015 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)

Visit The Record (Stockton, Calif.) at www.recordnet.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

_____

Topics: t000002458,t000002487,t000027866,t000027890,t000180398,t000027903,t000002478

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide