April 21, 2014
PART I: The Case of One Thing Leading to Another

The Defendants:

Fred Gray is 47 years old. Fred is unemployed. He has a severe addiction to heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Fred was convicted of bank robbery when he was 21, residential burglary when he was 28, and numerous felony and misdemeanor crimes for petty theft (shoplifting), burglary of businesses, and use and possession of heroin and cocaine.

Fred's girlfriend is Vannessa Green. Vannessa has no criminal record.

The Crime:

On August 1, 1999 Fred is desperate for money to buy some "crack cocaine." He and Vannessa are driving a 1998 Toyota Avalon that Fred bought for $ 500.00 from Jack, two days before.

Fred drives into the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo and sees Myrtle, who is 80 years old at an ATM machine. No one else is around. Fred tells Vannessa to get out of the car and grab "the old lady's" purse. Vannessa refuses, saying she doesn't want to hurt anyone. Fred says "just grab her purse - she won't get hurt." Fred then stops the car, opens the door and pushes Vannessa out.

Vannessa then runs over to Myrtle who is walking away from the ATM. Vannessa grabs Myrtle's purse. Myrtle resists and holds onto her purse, the strap of which is around her shoulder. Vannessa then starts pulling the purse strap harder to get it off of Myrtle's shoulder. Vannessa pulls on the purse so hard that Myrtle falls over, hits her head and is knocked unconscious. Now in possession of Myrtle's purse, Vannessa runs back to Fred's car. Seeing Myrtle fall, Fred restarts the Toyota and picks up Vannessa.

The Chase:

Just as Vannessa is running toward Fred's car, John, an off-duty San Francisco Police Officer sees Vannessa stealing Myrtle's purse. He calls 911 on his cell phone to get help for Myrtle and then hops in his car to chase after Fred. John catches up to Fred going north on El Camino and starts waving and yelling for Fred to stop.

Fred is in the far right lane of El Camino, but when he sees John, he suddenly cuts across all three lanes of traffic and turns north into the southbound lanes of El Camino. According to John, cars are flying all over the place as Fred increases his speed going north on El Camino in the southbound lane. John tries to follow and watches as Fred turns west on to Ralston Drive in Hillsborough.

In his attempt to get away, Fred hits two parked cars on Ralston and after hitting the second car, loses control of the Toyota. The Toyota flips over and crashes. Fred and Vannessa climb out of the car, and flee up into a ravine surrounded by houses. Vannessa's arm is injured and bleeding. John and a San Mateo Police Officer, Officer Dan arrive to find the Toyota smashed and flipped over. Officer Dan runs the Toyota's license plate and finds that it had been stolen out of San Jose three nights before.

The Search:

Other San Mateo police officers see blood drops in a trail from the Toyota leading into the ravine. They set up a perimeter around the ravine. Officer Dan then tracks the blood trail through the ravine, climbing up the hill about half a mile. Fred and Vannessa have already managed to escape up the hill and reach a cul-de-sac with three large houses on it.

The Escape:

Fred tells Vannessa to wait and watch for any police. Fred then enters Rich's large Hillsborough estate through an open bathroom window. To get a better view and to hide, Vannessa climbs up an oak tree in the front of Rich's house. Once inside Rich's house, Fred grabs two pillow cases and fills them with VCR's, DVD's, a Sony playstation and lots of cash and jewelry. Fred decides he'll steal one of Rich's cars and escape hoping the police will think he's Rich. On his way to the garage, Fred sees two bottles of "Blue Sapphire Bombay Gin" in Rich's bar. Fred can't resist and grabs a glass, finds some tonic water, makes himself a gin and tonic with Rich's expensive gin. Fred then leaves the glass on the bar counter and takes the two bottles of gin. Fred then goes into the garage and sees Rich's vintage 1957 Blue Thunderbird with the keys inside. Fred then loads the pillowcase and gin into the T-bird and drives out of the garage. While Fred is in the house, Vannessa hears the police coming. She continues to hide in the oak tree and Fred doesn't see her when he comes out of Rich's garage. Not bothering to wait, Fred takes off without Vannessa in the T-bird.

The Discovery:

The police arrive at the top of the ravine and within minutes find Vannessa on Rich's property. Vannessa's arm is still bleeding.

The Investigation:

Upon being detained by the police, Vannessa immediately blurts out, "I had nothing to do with burglarizing this house." Officer Dan searches Vannessa for weapons and finds Myrtle's credit cards and checkbook. Officer Dan goes into Rich's house and sees that it's been ransacked, and notices missing electronics equipment. Rich arrives home and tells Officer Dan his prized Bombay gin, Sony playstation, DVD's, VCR's and his classic T-bird are gone. He also tells Dan that the glass on the bar counter wasn't there when he left his home in the morning. Dan collects the glass for fingerprinting. Dan also calls a countywide broadcast for a 1957 T-bird with Rich's license plate number.

Fred gets caught:

Officer Sharp of Millbrae hears the broadcast. As he is driving down Broadway, he sees a blue T-bird weaving and driving erratically. Officer Sharp stops the T-bird which Fred is driving. By looking into the car from the street, Officer Sharp can see two pillowcases and two bottles of Blue Bombay gin. One bottle of gin is practically empty. Officer Sharp arrests Fred for driving a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property and drunk driving.

Further Investigation:

Officer Sharp gives Fred his Miranda rights and Fred says, "I ain't talking to you." Fred is put in Officer Sharp's patrol car. Officer Sharp says nothing to Fred. Fred then blurts out, "You know, I never wanted to hurt that old lady." Meanwhile Officer Gump of San Mateo is told to deal with Vannessa. Thinking Officer Dan gave Vannessa her Miranda rights, Officer Gump starts asking Vannessa about the robbery and burglary. Vannessa claims Fred forced her to rob Myrtle, and that he threatened to beat her up, if she didn't do what he wanted. Vannessa admits she knew Fred was burglarizing Rich's house because they needed a car to get away. Officer Dan arrests Vannessa for robbery. The glass that Dan had picked up was tested and came back with Fred's fingerprints on them. Fred's fingerprints also turned up on Myrtle's checkbook. Myrtle stayed in the hospital for a week, had brain surgery and fully recovered three months later. She can't identify either Fred or Vannessa.

© 2014 Superior Court of San Mateo County