Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “December 9, 2011”

Kari Abbey Preliminary Exam Day Three

By Emerson Drake

D. A. Investigator Kirk Bunch takes the stand:  He starts to describe what was found in the back shed or shop area.  On a side note I’m not sure that description does it justice.  A large picture behind the witness shows it has a main living area complete with couch and a kitchen area set back in the rear.  Also there is an alcove with room for a large bed and dresser above the kitchen area.  But we haven’t seen a blown up picture of the outside so I can’t relay what it appears like on the outside but it keeps being referred to as a metal building. The grow room is off to the right through a doorway.

 

In a closet in the building he discovers two uniforms.  One is Kari’s deputy uniform and the other is Bennie’s Hayward Police Dept. uniform.

 

Found in the main room is a digital scale and three bags of weighed packaged marijuana. The grow room contains 106 plants from16” to 59” tall. Grow lights, timers, pumps and system for supplementing and refreshing the air are also found. In the main room by the sink are stems from the cleaning process. It was a decision by Kirk Bunch that the marijuana grow was not in compliance withCalifornia’s Compassionate Use Act.

 

Behind the back building is a horse trailer containing saddles and tack from the Sheriff’s Posse. Three potted pot plants are located on the path to the horse trailer.

 

Bunch testifies Kari Abbey was paying the mortgage and electric bill for the house and shed.

 

In the main house inside Kari and Bennie’s closet are found several bullet proof vests which lot numbers are later introduced as having been purchased by the Hayward PD.

 

Between the mattress and box spring an AR-15 is found with a loaded magazine. In a drawer 33” off the ground in the kitchen island is a loaded 22 caliber pistol.  Behind the back cushions on the couch 23” off the ground in the living room is found a shotgun with four shells in the tube but none in the chamber. The locations and heights off the floor were testified to by Child Services Investigator George Papadopoulos <sp> .

 

Also introduced into evidence was a Hayward Police report where the HPD had discovered a marijuana growing operation owned by Bennie Taylor and rented to Ramandi Springfield <sp>. A receipt of an electric payment made by Bennie Taylor in the amount of $4,000.00 for the grow operation was found in the Abbey/Taylor bedroom.

 

Ramandi now owns a marijuana shop inSan Jose.

Ms. Abbey’s defense attorney asked several questions of Investigator Papadopoulos concerning the placement of the weapons found in Kari Abbey’s home.  Mr. Papadopoulos had taken pictures of all of the weapons when he arrived on the scene.  The weapons had been discovered by Officer David Shaw who informed the investigator that they were loaded when he found them. There was some discussion as to what “loaded” actually means.  Does it mean there was actually a round in the chamber ready to fire, or would the round have to be levered into the chamber?  The weapon photographed on the couch had a toy figurine near the trigger. Mr. Papadopoulos was questioned on whether or not someone could have placed the figurine there.  He indicated it was there when he arrived and he would have no knowledge of how it got there.

The AR-15 was found between the box spring and a tempur-pedic mattress.  When Mr. Papadopoulos arrived in the bedroom, the mattress had been moved back to show the AR-15 laying on the box spring.  The defense attorney questioned whether or not a child would be able to move a heavy tempu-rpedic mattress, and the investigator replied “maybe not, but they could reach between the box spring and mattress.”  A 22 caliber handgun was found in a kitchen drawer.  The defense attorney referred to this as a “secret drawer” in an attempt to show that Abbey’s children wouldn’t have had access to it.  Mr. Papadopoulos said he didn’t know if it was a secret drawer, as it was part of the kitchen island, but it did not have a handle and would be opened by pulling on the sides or underneath the drawer.

Investigator Hermosa was recalled to the stand and questioned about photos of the weapons.  Hermosa indicated that he took pictures and believed that the FBI took video and pictures of the execution of the search warrant.  Mr. Hermosa also testified that he spent some time talking to James Abbey in the drive-way of the residence.  At that time, he and Mr. Abbey saw officers walking to the area where the marijuana plants were found.  Mr. Abbey offered his keys to the officers and said “don’t ruin my plants”.  He also stated that he didn’t sell marijuana for a living.

Sergeant Larry Simka was called to the stand and testified that he worked for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office for 23 years.  He supervised Kari Abbey from July 2007 to February 2009.  She was given assignments related to crimes against children, elder abuse and domestic violence.  He testified that he was certain that Ms. Abbey had arrested people for child endangerment, but did not know if any of those arrests related to guns being within the reach of children.

Sergeant Simka also explained the department’s “flex-time” policy.  If you worked past your scheduled hours in one day, you could work a short day within the same pay period.  He testified that Ms. Abbey generally took her over-time as “flex-time” instead of over-time pay.  Simka was asked if he was aware that Ms. Abbey was a property manager and he explained that he was aware of that because at one time Ms. Abbey said she needed to use flex-time to deal with some zoning issues concerning rental properties.

District Attorney Dave Harris questioned Simka about complaints concerning Kari Abbey.  Simka had received complaints that Ms. Abbey was not available when other employees needed her.  He also received complaints that she spent a lot of time on personal phone calls.  Harris also asked Simka if he was aware that Ms. Abbey took “multiple lunch periods in a single day”, and would take McDonalds to her kids on county time.  Simka indicated he was not aware of that.  DA Harris asked Simka if he was aware that Kari Abbey was studying for a real estate license and that she was managing twenty-plus properties, and other deputies were going with Abbey on county time to serve eviction paperwork.  Sgt. Simka indicated that he was not aware of this.

When Ms. Abbey started working at the Sheriff’s Office, she was partnered with Randall Watkins for training.  Some time after her training was completed; Mr. Watkins expressed concern that Ms. Abbey was seldom available.

Detective Joe Delgado was called to the stand to discuss his interviews with witnesses.  He interviewed Carlos Rivas who lived at 1708ADonald St.  Mr. Rivas indicated that Rita didn’t live there, but she would come and stay for a few days, then leave for several days.

The person living in unit B indicated to the detective that she heard the argument between Kari Abbey and Rita Elias and then saw Abbey go to her car and retrieve “a holster with a gun in it”.  She also said she heard Rita say that she was going to get her gun.  While Rita was still in unit A, this witness said Kari Abbey returned to unit B, walking along the front of it, until she could look in the window of unit A and see what Rita was doing.  The witness yelled at Kari Abbey’s children to “stay down”. 

Lt. David Lundgren of Hayward Police Department was called to the stand to testify about a bullet-proof vest found at the Abbey residence.  He indicated that Abbey’s husband (a retiredHaywardpolice officer) would have no reason to have that vest in his possession.  Lt. Lundgren testified that he was the officer that received Mr. Taylor’s equipment when he retired.  He inventoried and photographed the equipment, but said that when he contacted HPD’s records department for the information, they indicated the records have been lost. 

The preliminary hearings will continue on Monday at 1:30.

Kari Abbey Preliminary Hearing Day Two Part Two

By Emerson Drake

The District Attorney’s Chief Investigator on the Kari Abbey case, Mike Hermosa is still on the stand and starts discussing the rental property onOlympia St.where Nora Martinez and Javier Arreygue have been after Jose Flores for some time asking him to rid the home of the rat and cockroach infestation.  They also complain about the homes lack of window screens.  This has been an ongoing issue and they have withheld rent in order to motivate the landlord which they believe isFlores.  Hermosa points out itsFloreswriting on the rental application. The renters smell gas and call PG&E who shut off the gas line until the leak on the house side is repaired.

 

D.A. Investigator Mark Smith returns to the stand after teaching class that morning. The discussion goes back to a co-worker of Kari Abbey’s, Pat Hanuula, and Abby’s early morning trips to Starbucks.  Smith states Hanuula told him that Abbey used this time to study for her real estate license course. Rains countered she was doing paperwork for her rental property.

 

The topic switches to the police search of the house where the “log book” concerning the  marijuana growing operation was found.  James Abbey told Mark Smith that the log didn’t track marijuana that was sold but the cost of growing it and that the grow was all his.

 

Kari Abbey told Smith that the grow room was her fathers not hers. Already mentioned was the fact one of Kari Abbey’s deputy uniforms was in a closet off of the grow room.

 

Jose Flores told Smith and Hermosa he and Kari had gone to 1708A Donald the week before the shooting in an attempt to collect the rent. Charles Rivas,  a tenant was there but Rita wasn’t and Flores and Abbey were told they would have the money next week.

 

Smith noted that Kari Abbey had a for rent sign in her work car (Scion). 

 

Back to Mike Hermosa: Hermosa had asked questions to see if the Sheriff’s Office was aware of Abbeys managing the rentals, which they were. Three were owned by James Abbey, nine co-owned by Kari and Bennie, one by Bennie himself, and a few by a bay area company (PLM) and the rest by anotherModestocouple.

 

Hermosa detailed several different addresses used by Rita during the summer on 2010 along with using a variety of sources for getting that information.

 

In the affidavit for the search warrant dated 3/24/11, support for a violation of penal code 602.5 and 418 and 602.5, in particular supporting the conspiracy charge, conspiring involves having no rental agreement to make the eviction process easier if it keeps the electricity in Abbey’s name. 

 

A discussion ensues regarding the altercation onSanta Cruz.  Kari and Bennie had told the MPD officer Bennie had hit Victor with an open hand according to the MPD report. But later Bernie acknowledges he hit Victor with his fist. Apparently James Abbey had taken a rental down payment and security deposit but refused to give the tenants a rental agreement to take to MID to get the electricity turned on because of a former debt. The renters created a fake renter agreement to get the power turned on, but MID checked with Abbey and then refused to.

 

Defense attorney Rains then produced a lengthy series of rental agreements which all showed the lessee was responsible for the electricity. All of these rental agreements name Kari Abbey as the property manager. But during cross D.A. Harris was able to point out these properties were unknown to the prosecution and were owned by someone else. 

 

These properties stretched from Ripon throughModestoand added to Abbey’s already heavy workload. They also highlighted the fact these other owners all used rental agreements and Abby many times didn’t.

 

James Abbey had made a series of personal notes where he detailed going into properties that were occupied without obtaining permission.

 

It’s also pointed out how James Abbey lied to officers on the night of the shooting, 9/24/10, by not mentioning Jose Flores having been at 1708A Donald and not knowing who the green truck belonged to (Flores) that witnesses said was in the driveway.

 

Former S.O. Sergeant and now Deputy Coroner Seymore tells the court how he was Abbeys supervisor from 3/09 thru 1/31/11.  He proudly relates he’s considered anal by his subordinates regarding keeping track of their whereabouts and how they keep him informed about everything they do.

 

He details how Kari’s schedule was 4 ten hour days and that she would talk with him when she needed to use flex time which by his estimation was about twice a week.  Sgt, Seymore suggested Abbey kept him well informed with her schedule and aware of what she was doing.

 

D.A. Harris asks if the S.O. has a policy that requires deputies to inform their supervisors regarding “official contact” with another police jurisdiction.  He said they did.  Harris then asked him if Abbey had reported the contact with the MPD regarding the tenant’s complaints along with the fight between Bennie and Victor.  Sgt. Seymore said no she didn’t.  Harris then said, “apparently she doesn’t tell you everything then does she.”  Sgt. Seymore said “I guess not.”

 

 

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