Everclear & Gasoline

by Bruce McEwen, October 25, 2017

Pickner

When Ukiah Police Officer Adam Elledge arrived at the ExpressMart on South State Street about 5pm on July 25th, he saw defendant Sequoyah Pickner on the ground, being held down by civilian Troy Van Patten. Officer Elledge also saw Mr. Pickner haul off and slug Mr. Van Patten in the face. That was Count One, Assault. Count Two was assault on Anna Jones with a gas nozzle as Mr. Pickner attempted to douse Ms. Jones’s car with gasoline, then Pickner allegedly tried to crawl through the window of the car and steal her purse.

Prosecutor Scott McMenomey: “Did the defendant in fact steal the purse?”

Officer Elledge: “No, Ms. Jones said she thought that was what he was after so she ran around to the passenger side of the vehicle, grabbed him and tried to pull him [Mr. Pickner] out of the vehicle.”

McMenomey: “Any damage to the vehicle?”

Elledge: “Yes, the door panel was pulled loose in the struggle.”

McMenomey: “How did Troy Van Patten get involved?”

Elledge: “Mr. Van Patten observed Mr. Pickner try to spray gas on the vehicle, then he saw Ms. Jones run around and pull Mr. Pickner out of the vehicle. When she pulled him out he fell down, then Mr. Pickner got up and took a fighting stance. That’s when Mr. Van Patten stepped in.”

McMenomey: “Did they get into an altercation?”

Elledge: “Mr. Pickner tried to strike Mr. Van Patten, and Mr. Van Patten wrestled him [Mr. Pickner] to the ground.”

(In his facebook photo, Mr. Van Patten looks like he could handle himself reasonably well in a wrestling match with a punk kid.)

McMenomey: “Did the defendant make any statements to Van Patten?”

Elledge: “Yes, he said, ‘I’ll fuck you up’.”

McMenomey showed some photographs to Elledge who identified them as pictures of the scrapes and scratches to Van Patten’s hands and knees.

Mary LeClair of the Office of the Public Defender rose to cross. She wanted to vet Officer Elledge on his education and knowledge of legal terms like “hearsay.”

McMenomey objected, saying, in effect, that although the rookie Elledge was young enough to be Ms. LeClair’s son, that was no reason to treat him like a child.

Judge Ann Moorman sustained the objection.

LeClair protested. She wanted to hear Elledge recite his definition of hearsay.

Deputy DA Josh Rosenfeld, in the audience watching the proceedings, rolled his eyes and whispered, “Do you know she gets paid more than I do?” (Maybe that’s why Rosenfeld left Friday for a new job at the Humboldt County DAs Office.)

Judge Moorman reminded LeClair that the objection on the grounds of pedantry had been sustained. But as we shall see, that was not the end of it.

LeClair: “The photos you have there in front of you depict some scrapes and scratches to Mr. Van Patten’s hands and knees?”

Elledge: “Correct.”

LeClair: “Isn’t it true that he got those injuries holding Mr. Pickner down?”

Elledge: “Yes, that’s correct.”

LeClair: “When you first arrived on scene you witnessed Mr. Pickner punch Mr. Van Patten in the face?”

Elledge: “Correct.”

LeClair: “Were there any injuries sustained from that punch?”

Elledge: “I did not see any injuries to his face.”

LeClair: “When you arrived he, Mr. Pickner that is, he was on his back on the ground?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And Mr. Van Patten was holding him down?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And Mr. Pickner was saying, ‘I’ll fuck you up’?”

Elledge: “Correct.”

LeClair: “Is Mr. Van Patten bigger than Mr. Pickner?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Did Ms. Jones tell you that my client was making faces at her?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Did she describe these faces?”

Elledge: “No.”

LeClair: “Mr. Van Patten said Mr. Pickner jumped into the vehicle – is that accurate?”

Elledge: “No.”

LeClair: “Isn’t it true that he came around and leaned into the vehicle?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And he didn’t take anything, isn’t that correct?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Uhmm… Now, you took Mr. Pickner into custody and transported him to the jail?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And the staff told you he needed a medical clearance before they could take him?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And he made some statements to you on the way to Ukiah Valley Medical Center?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Did he appear to be under the influence of alcohol?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “But when you got to the hospital, he wasn’t cleared, was he?”

Elledge: “No, so I ended up writing him a citation.”

LeClair: “Do you recall why he wasn’t cleared?”

McMenomey: “Objection, hearsay.”

Moorman: “Sustained.”

(Rosenfeld, sub-rosa: “Maybe the judge should ask if Ms. LeClair knows the definition of hearsay.”)

LeClair: “I’ll withdraw the question. Did you speak to the medical staff about Mr. Pickner’s condition?”

McMenomey: “Objection, relevance.”

LeClair: “There’s going to be a medical defense, your honor.”

Moorman: “I’ll allow it. Objection overruled.”

Elledge: “I did speak to a nurse.”

LeClair: “And she said he’d be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, right?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Do you know the reason?”

Elledge: “I don’t recall the reason, but I could offer a guess.”

Moorman: “Don’t guess. He was cited out and left at UVMC in the ICU?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

Moorman: “Somebody told you the reason?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

Moorman: “A medical person?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

Moorman: “And the reason had to do with drugs or alcohol?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And with Mr. Pickner’s medical condition?”

Elledge: “Yes, along with the drugs and alcohol, that was the reason.”

LeClair: “Was Ms. Jones putting gas in her car and Mr. Pickner took the gas nozzle from her?”

Elledge: “No, she was still in the car and he tried to put gas on the hood of the car, but only a few drops came out.”

LeClair: “Then he dropped the nozzle and tried to get in the car, but she intervened?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Thank you. Nothing further.”

McMenomey: “The People rest.”

LeClair: “The Defense calls Sequoyah Pickner. Your honor, may I use my client’s first name?”

Moorman: “Go ahead.”

LeClair: “How old are you Sequoyah?”

Pickner: “Nineteen.”

LeClair: “Still in High School?”

Pickner: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Do you still live with Mom?”

Pickner: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Ever been in trouble before?”

Pickner: “No.”

LeClair: “Are you scared? A little nervous?”

Pickner: “Sort of.”

LeClair: “Where were you before this incident on July 25th?”

Pickner: “At a buddy’s house.”

LeClair: “Do you remember what you were doing?”

Pickner: “Hanging out.”

LeClair: “Were you drinking alcohol?”

Pickner: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Do you remember what happened at the ExpressMart?”

Pickner: “I do not.”

LeClair: “Do you remember lifting off the gas nozzle and trying to douse a car in gasoline?”

Pickner: “I do not.”

LeClair: “Do you remember getting into an altercation?”

Pickner: “I don’t.”

LeClair: “You’re not supposed to drink, are you Sequoyah?”

Pickner: “No, I’m not.”

LeClair: “What’s the first thing you remember about this incident?”

Pickner: “Being in the Emergency Room in handcuffs.”

LeClair: “Were you later in the Intensive Care Unit?”

Pickner: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Why?”

Pickner: “I have diabetic ketoacidosis, my blood sugar goes way too high and my organs start failing.”

LeClair: “Does it have any affect on your memory?”

McMenomey: “Objection, calls for an expert’s testimony.”

Moorman: “Overruled.”

Pickner: “Yes.”

LeClair: “Had you ever been drunk before?”

Pickner: “No.”

LeClair: “Nothing further.”

McMenomey: “Never been drunk before? Two tall boys of Micky’s malt liquor and several shots of what you thought was vodka – remember that?”

Pickner: “No.”

McMenomey: “Who’s your doctor?”

Pickner: “Dr. Long.”

McMenomey: “What type of diabetic are you?”

Pickner: “Type one.”

McMenomey: “Take insulin?”

Pickner: “Yes.”

McMenomey: “How often?”

Pickner: “Once at night.”

McMenomey: “Recall telling Officer Elledge you knew you shouldn’t consume alcohol?”

Pickner: “I don’t remember.”

McMenomey: “Who’s your buddy?”

Pickner: “Brandon.”

McMenomey: Brandon who?”

Pickner: “I don’t know his last name.”

McMenomey: “How long have you known him?”

Pickner: “Six years.”

McMenomey: “You’ve known him six years and you don’t know his last name?”

Pickner: “No.”

Moorman: “What’s his last name, Sequoyah?”

(Note that when you incriminate someone in open court for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the judge jumps in and goes after the culprit — with the single exception that if you happen to be a medical doctor writing bogus opioid prescriptions for addicts, then nothing is said or done about it.)

Pickner: “I don’t know.”

McMenomey: “How much were you drinking?”

Pickner: “Six or seven shots of Everclear.”

McMenomey: “How’d you get to the Express Mart?”

Pickner: “Walked.”

McMenomey: “Recall attempting to spray gas on a woman’s car?”

Pickner: “No.”

McMenomey: “And you don’t remember getting into an altercation or making any threatening statements?”

Pickner: “No.”

LeClair: “Show them your hands, Sequoyah.”

Pickner held up his hands and said, “They were deformed at birth.”

McMenomey: “Recall telling the officer that you knew what you did was wrong?”

Pickner: “No.”

McMenomey recalled Officer Elledge and asked him to find in his report where Sequoyah told him he knew what he did was wrong, and that he wasn’t suppose to be drinking alcohol.

McMenomey: “Did he make a statement of remorse?”

Elledge: “He said, ‘I know what I did was wrong and apologize’.”

LeClair: “You also said he was extremely talkative, didn’t you?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “And he also told you he didn’t remember what happened at the gas station, didn’t he?”

Elledge: “Yes.”

LeClair: “So do you know what he was referring to when he said he was sorry?”

Elledge: “No.”

LeClair: “Your honor, I don’t think the one punch to Mr. Van Patten’s face amounts to a felony-level 245 and I’m prepared to make a 17b. Motion.” (To have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor after a period of abiding all laws.)

McMenomey: “It was a violent struggle that began with Ms. Jones and they ended up going to the ground – and, as you know, he doesn’t even have to touch Van Patten for it to be an assault – all he has to do is swing at him.”

Moorman: “I’ll hold him to answer on the 245 – you’re right, he doesn’t even need to touch him –when you haul back, like this, with your fist, and let fly, that’s assault, even if you’re on the ground and the Good Samaritan is holding you down – even then, it’s an assault, and even one punch can result in death – unfortunately, we’ve seen that – and it doesn’t matter who’s bigger.”

LeClair: “Your honor, there’s the question of present ability – look at his hands!”

Moorman: “I’ve seen his hands and they are very small but – I’ll hear the 17b. Motion… Let’s go.”

They all went in the judge’s chambers to finish up and so it seems likely that some kind of middle ground will be reached, and a grant of probation with strict non-alcohol terms ordered for Mr. Pickner.

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