Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Kari Abbey Prelim Summations the Long Version

By Emerson Drake

District Attorney Dave Harris

The afternoon started out quietly with D.A. Harris sitting at the table softly reciting the events of last week’s hearings.  He started by describing the various ways Rita Elias had made the world aware of where she lived over the summer.  How her ex-common law husband had brought her children over to visit about ten times and always to the 1708A Donaldson address.

And how, when arrested in August, Rita had given the 1708A address to the Probation Department including providing them with a diagram of the apartment and where her bedroom was in relationship to those of others.  She even had a cable bill in her name at that address since cable service was part of the overhead she paid.  Just three weeks prior to the shooting she had told Deputy Hooper that she lived there as he documented in a report.

James Abbey had told the officers the night of the shooting he and Kari were there to collect the rent or evict them that night.  He also had admitted to Officers Kari and Rita had gotten in a fight with Kari ending up on top of Rita, pummeling her until James Abbey told her to stop. Harris reminded the court another witness had related how Elias said if she hadn’t been wearing heals Abbey wouldn’t have won.  James Abbey’s response to her was “bring it on.”  He then he told Elias “if you don’t leave I’ll sick Kari on you again.”

We were reminded of the times where Abbey had used her relationship withModestopolice and her badge to remain in control of situations when police were called. Kari and James Abbey and Bennie Taylor sometimes used ‘self help’ up to and including violent acts against tenants as Harris called it to perform illegal evictions of tenants behind in their rent payments.

DA Harris sited Daluiso vs. Boone, a Supreme Court decision that when performing unlawful evictions anything that came afterward was illegal.

Harris then pointed out the 106 plants were many times more than the Compassionate Act allowed and while acknowledging James Abbey had a recommendation, it didn’t cover this many plants and that James Abbey had admitted to investigators he had sold some of his harvested buds.  The second recommendation from someone in the foothills didn’t count since there was no evidence that James was the other persons’ caregiver. The third card was expired and wasn’t valid.

Harris went on to the embezzlement charge, reminding the Judge of the statements of two co-workers who had complained to her supervisor that Kari was spending 50% of her time on non-work related business.  The supervisor works in another location, so direct supervision was impossible.  The co-workers complained that she spent 50% of her time on her property management, and that there was a “for sale” and a “for rent” sign in her county issued car.

Harris also points out that ‘flex time’ excuse given by the defense doesn’t hold water.  And that Abbey had used her professional relationships to get fellow Officers to perform evictions for her with out Abbey having to pay the fee the Sheriff’s Office charges landlords.

Harris’ delivery through out his summation is calm and deliberate and he remained seated the entire time.

Defense Attorney Michael Rains

Now it was Defense attorney Michael Rains’ turn.  He said he felt the need to educate the people in the courtroom about prelims and what they were for but to be honest it seemed like he was addressing the judge through, or should I say instead, of  the observers in the courtroom. He reminded everyone of how his specialty is defending accused police officers and he had tried cases in many different counties but his experience here was limited and he hoped this county was like the others. He was concerned that this case might be a public relations ploy for the District Attorney’s office. 

Defense Attorney Rains’ style is to pace and apply histrionics (exaggerated expression or emotion) to his delivery.

He tells the court most times at prelims the prosecutor is smug and confident and while he doesn’t accuse Harris of this it reminds one of the act in Julius Caesar when Anthony says Brutus is an honorable man but means the exact opposite.  Defense attorney Harris says that most if not all of these charges should be thrown out and claims it was self-defense.  He also says that “cops will be charged with murder all the time if this is allowed to continue”. 

Rains uses the phrase “crafty claims” by the prosecution and denies that the facts the DA is using are real.  He actually suggests that just because she had a cable bill in her name at this address, doesn’t mean that she lives there.  Rains quotes Sally Pantoja saying that she didn’t see a fight between Abbey and Elias and he claims that the autopsy shows hair was pulled out of the scalp, but no hair was found at the scene, suggesting that the fight took place somewhere else.  

According to testimony the autopsy stated there was bruising on the scalp, suggesting that hair was pulled.  It was never suggested that hair was pulled from the scalp.  He suggested that the autopsy evidence of Rita having blunt force trauma to her hands and face could have been Elias hitting Abbey, not the other way around. 

Rains then tries to work in some hearsay that the judge had not allowed in hearings last week.  Harris objects and is sustained.  Rains says that Sally Pantoja was a credible witness despite the fact that she wouldn’t answer her door twice when police were trying to find witnesses to what happened.  Presumably she didn’t answer because she was on probation and under the influence of an illegal substance. 

 He actually claims that Kari Abbey was obligated to shoot Rita Elias as a police officer, despite her not being there in an official capacity.  He says the DA is waging a smear campaign against his client.  He also says the conspiracy case is a “wobbler”, meaning it could be a felony or misdemeanor.  He tries to make the claim that Bennie Taylor wasn’t there at all three instances of illegal evictions, so how can it be a conspiracy? 

He calls Quantana, who was assaulted by Bennie Taylor during an attempt to collect past due rent, a professional squatter. In the attempt to evict Quantana, the Abbey’s refused to supply a rental agreement despite his having paid about $1200 as a deposit.  As a result, Mr. Quantana was forced to generate a false rental agreement in an attempt to obtain electricity.  This would be the third time the Abbeys have been shown to either turn off the electricity as they did at the 1708 Donald home, the night of the shooting, and during the attempted eviction onWiley Drive.  

Rains reminds the court that he introduced eighteen rental agreements where the renter was required to pay for the electricity and had Investigator Hermosa read where the renter was required to provide the electricity in all those instances.

As far as the embezzlement charge is concerned, he suggests they have nothing but hearsay, with disgruntled co-workers alleging that she was only working a50% of the time.  He actually says the law language in the embezzlement charge is ambiguous at best and one is required to use the “rule of reasonableness”.

Once again, Rains accuses the DA of a smear job and tries to blame Abbey for the marijuana grow and tries to play it off as a medical grow, despite the fact log books and scales were found and James Abbey told police officers that he sold it.

Rains says that Kirk Bunch perjured himself by saying the MID bill found in Abbey’s bedroom was for the house and shed.  Rains pointed out that TID services that area. 

When he talks about the child endangerment charge, he reminds the court of the two pictures of the shotgun found in the couch with the child’s toy found near the trigger in one, but it was moved in the second one. 

I smell a rat.

Defense attorney Rains suggests the evidence was planted and said quite dramatically, “I smell a rat”.  Defense Attorney Rains’ presentation seemed more like a stage actors dramatic portrayal that’s been over-dramatized and filled with hyperbole. 

District Attorney Harris’ rebuttal.

DA Harris discussed the two pictures of the shotgun, pointing out to the court, the first one with the toy next top the trigger was taken to show how the weapon appeared when they found it.  The second one shows that the four shotgun shells had been removed from the gun, so obviously the movement of the toy was inconsequential.  Harris points out “to have guns where a six year old can reach them is inherently dangerous”. 

Concerning the marijuana grow, three cards were found.  One was expired and the second gave no indication that James Abbey was a caregiver to the card holder, the third was James Abbey’s, but the Compassionate Care Act doesn’t allow that quantity of plants and never allows sales.   The court is reminded that James Abbey admitted to investigators that he sometimes sold marijuana. The path that leads to the horse trailer in back that held sheriff’s posse tack and saddles, is where the three potted marijuana plants were found by investigators and where they noticed the strong smell of marijuana.

Mortgage paperwork for the house and shed, although in Kari, James and Denise Abbeys name, was found in Kari Abbey and Bennie Taylor’s bedroom, showing that Kari Abbey had been paying the mortgage for the house and shed and the electricity bill for both the house and the shed.

If you count the properties owned by Kari Abbey, James Abbey and Bennie Taylor, along with the company PLM, and now the recently introduced 18 more properties, it’s possible that Kari Abbey was managing 31 properties.  Deputies found a rental and a for sale sign in her county issued car.  Kari Abbey had been using her professional relationships with fellow deputies to deliver eviction notices and wasn’t paying the county mandated fee to the sheriff’s department. 

On the night of the shooting, James Abbey told investigators “we were going to get the rent or we were going to evict them”.  

Conspiracy is defined as an unlawful agreement to perform an unlawful purpose or act, so by James and Kari going to “get the rent or evict them”, it shows there was a conspiracy.  Defense attorney Rains had made claims that a landlord can go into a home at anytime, so therefore, there was no “trespass” that night.  DA Harris pointed out the law Rains quoted was from 1946 and there have been many changes regarding rental rights since then.  When a renter is in the home, they have the same legal rights as if they were the owner.  Kari, James or Bennie entering any rental property where somebody was already in the home is trespassing.  He says the law has to protect “lesser individuals” and that Abbey never identified herself as a police officer in the performance of her duty and as such, never gave Rita Elias the chance to surrender. 

He reminds the court that Jose Flores, Kari’s apartment manager, stated to investigators that Kari said to Rita, “come on, if you want to fight me, come back up here”, when Rita was in the street preparing to leave.  Kari goaded her into returning.  Its Rita returning back to the duplex that Judge Ricardo Cordova says justifies the self-defense.

After the hearing Rains spoke to observers, and mentioned he was concerned the DA would re-file the murder or manslaughter charges.  He plans to continue preparing a defense in case that happens.


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3 thoughts on “Kari Abbey Prelim Summations the Long Version

  1. SHANSEN on said:

    Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova has made a mockery of our justice system. Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova should have recused himself from this case since he had a prior working / supervisorial relationship with former Stanislaus County Sheriff Kari Abbey. This prior relationship did not just “appear” to be a conflict it “was a conflict”. District Attorney Birgit Fladager should have made a motion to have this Judge removed from the get go.
    Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova has turned this trial into one big “dog and pony show”. If it were the other way around and a judge had a working relationship with Rita Elias I am positive high power lawyer Michael Raines would have had the judge removed from the trial.

    “bull—-” is correct; the fix was in.

    This is a travesty of justice !!!

    Posted on December 21, 2011 by wayne2008sblogsite

    Who is the Hon. Judge Ricardo Cordova?
    The second Hispanic to be elected to office as a Judge in the State of California.?
    Judge Cordova is also the defendant’s former coworker in this case, in fact Detective Abbey’s former supervisor while they worked at the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office Defense attorneys section, same office. Judge Cordova says its been so long ago that his working relationship with Detective Abbey should not matter. Less than ten years ago.
    Should that working relationship between Judge Cordova and Detective Abbey be enough for the Judge to recuse himself?

    I think so and common sense tells you, the Judge should have recused himself. But he didn’t and now we have this blatant disregard for the rules of the court. Seems biased to me.
    I said from the beginning the murder charge against Detective Abbey would be dropped, this is all part of the Friends Network, friends helping friends to get off of the hook.
    I was stunned and shocked to see how boldly a Judge would go to great lengths to protect a former coworker and ex-law enforcement officer in full public view.

    We had all hoped for a fair trial for Detective Abbey that was all of our thoughts. But this case never even made it to trial when the evidence supported a trial by jury.

    Will the District Attorney refile this case or join in on the corruption?

    “During Wednesday’s hearing, Córdova said Abbey once worked for the Stanislaus County public defender’s office about 10 years ago, around the same time the judge worked there.

    Córdova said he didn’t see any conflict of interest and would not recuse himself. The defense and prosecuting attorneys did not raise any concerns about the judge’s connection to the defendant during the arraignment.”

    Here’s the Judges old telephone number and web address to prove he worked at the District Attorney’s Office
    Public defender Ricardo Cordova 525-4242 525-4244
    I listened to the Morning Mayor Show yesterday which is hosted by Carmen Sabatino and he had two guests who are attorneys in the field of criminal law, defense attorneys. Martha Carlton Magana and Ramon Magana. I thought it summed up what I was thinking after witnessing the blatant corruption.
    Here’s the Transcript of the conversation:
    Carmen Sabatino-Good Morning and welcome to the Morning mayor show…
    It’s December 20TH and it’s 10 O’clock and it’s ready for us to talk about the events of yesterday and with us is Martha Carlton Magana. Good Morning Martha…
    Martha Carlton Magana- Good Morning Carmen..and how are you doing this morning?
    Carmen Sabatino- Brian, you will probably have a lot of action on the chat room today…I have to say that Fred Mertz checked in today early, I think he say’s it all,when he says and were talking about Judge Cordova’s dismissal
    Martha Carlton Magan -Right!
    Carmen Sabatino – and Fred says it makes me so sick to my stomach
    Martha Carlton Magana – Dismissal of the Murder charge of Kari Abbey
    Carmen Sabatino – Right, it makes me so sick to my stomach that I can hardly find the words, it’s a tale of two justice systems . You know Martha the, actually, I told you and Ramon about this last night and I could sense a depression coming on over me.
    Martha Carlton Magana – Yes ! it’s disturbing, yes it’s disturbing on so many levels, it’s so shocking that Ramon he thought for two or three minutes that you were joking…
    Carmen Sabatino – Yeah ! it..
    Martha Carlton Magana – He thought you were just making a sick joke last night. It’s it’s let me start by saying that Judge Cordova, made a terrible, terrible mistake which is rectifiable by the District Attorney’s Office, but due to the comments by Misses Fladagher made in the Bee I don’t think they’re going to rectify it and it concerns me, let me start out by explaining what Judge Cordova did wrong.
    Judge Cordova is supposed to when he hears evidence of a homicide to first determine whether or not a homicide was committed, yes ! Rita Elias was killed, Second: What was she intentionally killed, Yes, that makes it a murder. Three: Was it premeditated and deliberate, that makes it a first degree murder unless Four: it is justified.
    So first he finds all of the elements and then if in fact…. thee defense puts on enough evidence to prove…really conclusively that it is self-defense, the Judge does not hold the individual to answer, however self-defense is a defense and I underline that . Once you have that somebody has been killed with premeditation and deliberation its first degree murder.
    A holding order is required for first degree murder, the fact that there are some elements of self-defense the case laws are absolutely clear, the fact that there are some elements of self-defense is a question to be answered later for the jury, only if the self-defense is conclusive , absolutely conclusive is a matter of law does the Judge not hold the individual to answer so in the case-law on this in this area is extent there is a substantial amount of case-law.
    The Judge apparently from the remarks I saw on the Bee and reading blogs on the Internet the Judge does not seem to be aware of the case-law and the district attorney did not seem to be aware of the case-law.
    The district attorney seemed to be under the mistaken impression that the only thing he had to prove was that Kari Abbey was there on unlawful business. All he had to prove was that Kari Abbey intentionally killed with premeditation and deliberation, the defense then has to put on elements of self-defense, they have to put on a complete case of self-defense in order for a judge not to hold it against her.
    That did not happen in this case, in fact I don’t even know if the defense called any witnesses. That’s really beyond a tragedy it’s a travesty and a tragedy.
    Carmen Sabatino -Today I read some comments about the fact that you know Kari Abbey went back, I’m sorry but Rita Elias went back into her house and she should have stayed there. This is it’s sort of like Rita Elias goes back into her house but Kari Abbey goes to her car!
    Martha Carlton Magana – And get’s her gun !
    Carmen Sabatino – So..
    Martha Carlton Magana -It’s the Scion, I understand there have been issues about the car, I re read the search warrant affidavit it’s the Scion, it’s that little box car..and apparently she went to her car to get her gun after the situation escalated…. so Rita goes back into….
    Carmen Sabatino – She could have gotten in her car and drove away….
    Martha Carlton Magana – So the judge does not seem to realize Rita Elias is protecting herself from an aggressor and it’s clear from everything I’ve read that Kari Abbey was the aggressor in the physical assaults, and Kari Abbey was clearly the aggressor in the physical assaults, three: that Rita Elias had the right of self-defense four: Kari Abbey premeditated and deliberated further by going to her car to get the gun when Rita went back into the house instead of leaving the scene.
    I’m again the analysis used to support is incorrect is it correctable? yes it is correctable , how is it correctable? the district attorney has two options he can start over he can refile the complaint or he can go to the grand jury and get an indictment he can do either one of those things or she can do either one of those things because technically were talking about Birgit here and not Dave Harris, so Birgit has the option to refile the complaint or go to a grand jury and ask for an indictment or she has the option to file the murder charges in the information that is going to be filed before January 23RD.
    She can do that because the evidence of the murder is there at the preliminary hearing, so she has those three options available to her she also has a fourth option which is the less tenable option which is to go ahead and writ the courts failure to hold her to answer but it’s there they can go to the appellate courts now and they will be told by the appellate court that the judge was wrong and the complaint would be reinstated, so they have pretty solid options here to pursue the murder charges against Kari Abbey and for you of those who are wondering when is it over for some body who is really innocent the district attorney according to a murder charge has three dismissals at its disposal before the charges can’t be brought again.
    So the district attorney has these options but having read the comments of Ms. Fladagher in Bee this morning it’s pretty clear to me that she has no interest in pursuing options and it gets us back to the real questions that we’ve had about their enthusiasm for this prosecution, she says that the…let’s see if I can find that, of course I’ve fiddled with this so much that I can’t find it at the moment, but basically she says that the court listened to the facts and has its opinion and they thought they had put on a sufficient case but he has made his decision and she sounds as if in her mind that ‘s it.
    Let’s see “We” this is Birgit Fladagher saying “We presented all the facts we had and the case-law we believed was applicable” and parenthetically I don’t think they presented all of the applicable case-law that would have helped the court and come to the correct decision…” that we believe was applicable to support our position that Abbey’s criminal conduct forfeited her right to claim self-defense ” there already is a problem with the narrow theory they were using ” the district attorney continued but the judge ruled that Abbey could stand her ground and that it was his opinion that she had discontinued the initial fight and based on the facts presented this was a tragic situation but that Abbey had the legal right to shoot Elias ” which basically again Abbey went to her vehicle to get a weapon when Elias went into the house …..
    Carmen Sabatino – That’s a fact..!
    Martha Carlton Magana – But ! that’s
    Carmen Sabatino – That’s premeditation !
    Martha Carlton Magana – Yep!
    Carmen Sabatino – I’m going to get her !
    Martha Carlton Magana – And as I said, when it’s self-defense involved the issue before the court should be whether all of the elements of first degree murder have been met , but is the killing justified?

    That’s when you go to the defense and it is the defenses burden to put on self-defense to justify the murder to turn it into a justifiable homicide the district attorney put on sufficient evidence that’s needed for a holding order the defense did not overcome that evidence the court didn’t say that the defense overcame that evidence the court was just wrong , the court was sadly ignorant ….

    One would expect the district attorney to help educate the court . the court can’t know everything as though you’d like to think they could.
    The district attorney didn’t educate the court, so here we are but now the district attorney knows it’s salvageable , they have four good options, lets see if they choose one of those options.
    Carmen Sabatino – Fred makes the point that uh,the DA is too busy going after Lieutenant Martin Cisneros.
    Martha Carlton Magana -Exactly !
    Carmen Sabatino -For $800 dollars, there too busy with that, this district attorneys office doesn’t have enough time to get involved with the SCAP thing , we just don’t have the resources for that…You know it’s tough to say who’s more responsible for this is it the district attorney who didn’t try very hard ? or is it the judge? I understand it’s judge Cordova would like to be appointed to an appellate court if that’s the case ….this should go very much against him if we look at his record objectively..but you know as one of the comments was made …There’s just a lot of politics involved.
    Martha Carlton Magana – Well that individual just took my words out of my mouth because I was just about to say it. No,no,no Carmen, appointments are political and this judge may have made a political decision that makes a lot of people very happy , there are people in law enforcement who think this is a wonderful decision , that….if…I’m not saying that was Judge Cordova’s motivation but I do think he needs to look deeper into his soul and wonder if or not his bias in this case over came his analysis of the facts.

    But remember this is the district attorney’s office who did not charge the use clause in the first place the only time in the history of the homicide that they didn’t charge a use clause first time and last time I believe in Stanislaus County so one has to wonder I think it’s over…
    Carmen Sabatino – Well if they knew for sure what judge Cordova was going to do, that gun enhancement would not have been so dangerous.
    Martha Carlton Magana – It’s much harder for a judge to dismiss a case that carries so much more time, but let me say the really frightening aspect of this is the long-term issues with an officer who was allowed to do private business on duty, killed an individual in the way that Rita Elias was killed and finds out when she was going to court that she doesn’t have to worry that she walks free…

    We have a problem in this country and Stanislaus County is one of many jurisdictions where it appears that the police have a culture that puts them on a plain separate from the rest of the citizens as Mr. Fred Mertz said, “We have two justice systems,” this point if you’re a police officer in this country and I don’t just mean Stanislaus County I didn’t flip when I said country instead of county.
    If you’re a police officer in this country The rules are simply different, We talked last Friday about Judge Donald Gates who has a district attorney, walked into a home and shot in the chest after an hour of provocation by that district attorney shot a defense attorney in the chest that’s attempted murder he was never even charged because he had mental issues, he was drunk on his ass that was his mental issue, according and he went on to become a conservative Republican Judge sitting on the second appellate district in Los Angeles.
    We have right now as of yesterday as I read the paper, you have the Justice department saying the police in the city of Spokane are a culture unto themselves, just recently one of their own was convicted for beating,federally convicted for beating up a mentally ill man who was unarmed, does this sound familiar to Stanislaus County citizens? for beating up an armed mentally ill man, he was convicted by the feds because the district attorney in Spokane refused to press charges when he was remanded into custody the police officers of the Spokane police department got up and saluted him! as he was taken into custody.
    The people of the city of Spokane are disgusted with their police department,the same day I read that the justice department found ongoing misconduct in the East New Haven police department in Connecticut, in among other things in a city of 10% Latinos, half the arrests are of Latinos,I’m not even done Carmen..
    Carmen Sabatino -Yeah,you are…
    Martha Carlton Magana – No! in Arizona in Phoenix just Arpaio, sheriff Arpaio, justice of the police department,page after page of his discriminatory law enforcement , We have a problem.
    Carmen Sabatino -Don’t lose your train of thought there because we want to take a break.
    Judge Cordova,the District Attorney’s Office are not following the procedures of law.

    This case should have been tried by a jury. They can refile and make sure it is a trial by jury,not by a friend and former coworker. Let’s not lose the focus and remember the other party in this case was shot dead. This case should not be tied to ones personal emotions but according to the law.

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