Charges dropped against man accused of attempted murder
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jul 25, 2014 | 7771 views | 16 16 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MANTECA — All charges against Brandon Lockwood were dropped by the deputy district attorney after the victims of a February shooting told him he had the wrong man for the crime.

The scene unfolded Friday in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court.

“That’s not him. That’s not the guy that shot at me.”

According to Deputy District Attorney Donald Vaughn, shooting victims Martin Rocha and Cinthya Lizeth uttered those words to him just before Friday’s preliminary hearing began.

Vaughn said that the victims, sitting in the courtroom, told the bailiff they wanted to talk to Vaughn. He said he went over to them and both said that Lockwood was not the shooter.

The Tracy 19-year-old was charged with premeditated attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and shooting at an inhabited vehicle with enhancements of personal use of a firearm and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

He was accused of shooting at Rocha and Lizeth on Feb. 12 as the couple drove out of an apartment complex parking lot on the 2900 block of Lowell Avenue. Neither had any injuries.

After talking to the victims, Vaughn told Judge Ron Northup, “Move to dismiss (the charges) in light of the evidence,” which caused an eruption of cheers from Lockwood’s family and friends inside the courtroom.

“It wasn’t him, I knew that,” Lockwood’s mother, Jeannette, said outside the courtroom. “I knew it wasn’t my son that did it. I’m a believer, if you commit a crime, you are liable for that. I knew it wasn’t him from the beginning.

“I came in here thinking I would hear the worst news,” she added. “It’s the happiest day in my life.”

Lockwood’s girlfriend, Jenny Deperalta, said outside the courtroom that she was at a loss for words.

“I’m in shock,” she said. “I can’t believe we went through this ordeal, knowing he was innocent.”

After the decision, Vaughn said he had no reason to believe the victims were lying in their statement.

“The preliminary is to wash out issues, and in this it was an ID (issue),” he said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the person who did it, and fortunately, we don’t prosecute innocent people.”

Lockwood was expected to be freed from San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp later Friday.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at drizzo7699@aol.com or 830-4225.

 
Comments
(16)
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CharlieWaffles
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July 29, 2014
Charlie says FHRITP
tag-ur-it
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July 27, 2014
The ex-Hayward police chief and all his buds at the ale house must be so proud. They like to write it down as two crimes. They love to double everything up when it comes to crime.
Hahahahahaha
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July 28, 2014
You should maybe consider making sense when you post here.
ronindran
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July 26, 2014
Hey rayderfan : there is only one certainity in our courts system - that is if you wear any raider clothing/paraphernalia we give the maximum sentence. LOL
ronindran
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July 26, 2014
Kencefalo: as to your comment of "Really? We are supposed to feel good about the innocent only spending 5 months in jail?" the answer is "of course not". What you should feel good about is is this county is blessed with ethical prosecutors like Mr.Vaughn who moved to dismiss the case at the first reliable sign of innocence. And requesting a live line up is a defense motion and I am NOT defending the defense attorney or accusing here - I do not even know who that is. My (substantial) experience is that defense attorneys usually have a good reason for doing what they do. Additionally the San Joaquin County DA's office as well as the Public Defender's office have been bludgeoned with repeated budget cuts and consequently an incredible overload of cases. So for those who want to see the system change substantially or strive toward perfection - I recommend a significant donation to the County General Fund?
ertion
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July 29, 2014
Not to beat a dead horse, or even a bruised Ron Indran, but isn't justice defined as "what is owed"? In this case, wasn't what was owed to the defendant a quick release? How hard and expensive is it to get a visual in-person confirmation, a "yeah, that's him"?

Asking the people to pay (into the Country General Fund), above and beyond the massive percentage of their income that they already pay in taxes of every sort for every facet of government, in order to avoid rotting in jail for five months if you're too poor for a good lawyer, seems just a tad extortionate, does it not?
rayderfan
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July 26, 2014
Unfortunately, this young man had to serve several months in jail for a mistake made by the PD and the prosecutor. We can only hope this is an isolated situation and does not happen again.
ertion
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July 26, 2014
This doesn't pass the smell test. This guy was arrested in February. Has he been in jail all that time? Wouldn't the FIRST order of business be to have the victims ID a suspect in a line-up? photo or in person?

Either the victims recanted for some reason, or the prosecutors/police screwed up on this one. Why would you have someone jailed for months without a positive ID from the most important witnesses--in this case the victims?

If it's the latter, this could result in a lawsuit...
ronindran
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July 26, 2014
1)A criminally accused defendant has a statutory right to proceed to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days. If the preliminary hearing was scheduled 5 months later, that's because the defendant consented to do so.

2)The police and the DA's office must have had some reasonable basis to arrest & file charges against Mr. Lockwood. We don't drag in some random guy from the street and charge him with attempted murder.

3) A six pack Photo lineup necessarily has 6 people who are similar. It is not uncommon for witnesses to pick out the wrong person. They realize their mistake when they see the person in person.

4) There can not be law suits for wrongful arrests of prosecution because of governmental immunity. If the police or DA arrested / prosecuted him "knowing" of his innocence that might be a different story. As Mr. Vaughn said we do not prosecute the innocent.

5) It is unfortunate that Mr. Lockwood spent 5 months in the county jail but he avoided a life sentence in the state prison.

6) Our justice system is designed to provide "substantial justice" not "perfect justice".
KenCefalo
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July 26, 2014
Mr Ronindran,

Part of the reason this got my attention is because a friend's daughter has been in French Camp for 6 months for something she says (and I believe) she didn't do. Her public defender and the "system" continue to cause delays.

And regarding your statement #5......

5) It is unfortunate that Mr. Lockwood spent 5 months in the county jail but he avoided a life sentence in the state prison.

Really? We are supposed to feel good about the innocent only spending 5 months in jail?

You are right about the system not being perfect, but have we accepted it as it is and given up working to make it better? I hope we haven't become dispassionate.

ertion
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July 26, 2014
"A criminally accused defendant has a statutory right to proceed to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days. If the preliminary hearing was scheduled 5 months later, that's because the defendant consented to do so."

We have no way of knowing what went into the defendant's decision. Bad counsel or other pressures applied by the prosecution. This doesn't absolve the authorities from their obligation to make sure they don't imprison someone who is innocent.

"The police and the DA's office must have had some reasonable basis to arrest & file charges against Mr. Lockwood."

We're supposed to take this just on faith? I guess there's *never* any occasion where the police and prosecutors make mistakes or even act maliciously. Sorry, but I'm not buying this.

"There can not be law suits for wrongful arrests of prosecution because of governmental immunity."

You've got that one waaay wrong. If the arresting authorities fail due diligence and arrest and jail the wrong person they can and ARE sued, all the time.

ronindran
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July 26, 2014
KenCefalo: I am not going to judge Mr. Lockwood's case by the merits of your friend's daughters case for each case stands on it's own Merits - Apple & Zebras. I was not defending the system as a whole for it is made of several parts. I was defending Tracy PD, the DA's office & Mr. Vaughn in this specific case. As to your friend's daughter's case, the only thing her defense attorney needs to do is to say "set the case time not waived" and if the system can not provide a trial in 60 days they MUST DISMISS. Now I have close knowledge of the public defender's office and they have excellent defense lawyers. Thus it stands to reason if they are intentionally delaying your friend's daughter's case there must be a very good reason for it - may be things they cannot divulge due to attorney client privilege.

As to Mr. Lockwood: Hypothetically of course - if a witness sees the suspect arguing with the victim just prior to the shooting & is later identified with substantial certainty in a 6-pack line up it would be negligent of a prosecutor to not file charges.
rayderfan
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July 26, 2014
;ronindran, As a County Prosecutor you should know the system and how it works. Further, you should know that the public defenders, the prosecutors office and the court system are much to bogged down to ensure a defendant's right to a speedy trial.

This being said, it doesn't do anyone any good to make excuses about why this defendant was held for 5 months before anyone in the Prosecutor's office, or the TPD decided to speak with the witnesses regarding their ability to identify the person charged with the crime.

It seems to me someone in the Prosecutor's Office or the TPD would have recommended a line up so the witnesses could at least attempt to identify the perp.
ertion
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July 27, 2014
I'm not accusing the authorities of any sort of incompetence or malfeasance. Yet these phrases from the purported prosecutor ronindran are troubling and set my spidey sense a tingling:

"...police and the DA's office **must have had** some reasonable basis... if they are intentionally delaying your friend's daughter's case **there must be** a very good reason for it..."

Why must there be some good reason? Maybe there just wasn't a defender available sooner. Maybe the prosecutors had already convicted the guy in their own minds.

If it is not uncommon for witnesses to be mistaken about a photo lineup and only an in-person viewing clears up the mistake, well, gee, in case of this magnitude, really, shouldn't that be done automatically to confirm the photo lineup?

I'm not so sure about the assessment of the public defenders. In the juries I've been involved with, the prosecutors are a lot more aggressive and are mentally quicker, and seem to have lots more resources at their disposal.

No accusations, but come on. Five months in jail for nothing, only a shoulder shrug "justice ain't perfect"? Some changes needed, no? The cavalier attitude from the authorities is troubling.
KenCefalo
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July 26, 2014
"Lockwood was expected to be freed from San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp later Friday."

I'm glad Mr. Lockwood will be home soon, but why in the world did he spend so much time in jail in the first place, and I'll never understand why when a case is dismissed they take the defendant back to jail rather then letting him walk out of the courtroom right then.

Soccermom143
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July 25, 2014
I've lived in the Chesapeake bay apartments for years and I knew the Lockwoods personally. Brandon is a great guy! I'm so happy justice has been served! As a mother I can't imagine one of my kids being taken away for 5 months on false accusations! Get it together Tracy police this whole case has been a joke! Its so sad him & his family had to go through all the suffering


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