Look back at the tumultuous first week of alleged cop killer Luis Bracamontes' trial
Luis Bracamontes is locked in a holding cell watching his death penalty trial on a video feed, but the confessed cop killer’s threats and profanity were still echoing in the courtroom Wednesday.
Jailers who interacted with Bracamontes while he was awaiting trial testified for the prosecution Wednesday morning in Sacramento Superior Court about their confrontations with the suspect, including one involving a Sacramento deputy trying to take a book away from him.
“He basically said, ‘F--- you, I should have killed you, too,’ ” Deputy Chris Wood testified about a Nov. 4, 2014, incident in which Wood seized a copy of a book called “Thug” from Bracamontes.
At the time, Bracamontes had been in custody for about two weeks, following the Oct. 24, 2014, slayings of Sacramento sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr.
Wood said Bracamontes was restricted from having any reading material at the time other than a Bible. “The title of the book led me to believe that it wasn’t a Bible,” Wood said.
The next day, Bracamontes was transferred to the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville. Back in Sacramento, Deputy Brandon Gayman entered the cell Bracamontes had occupied and said he found a number of passages written on the wall.
“There was lots of writings that were placed on the wall with a lead pencil,” Gayman said of the cell where Bracamontes had been housed alone.
“The Sinaloa Cartel is watching all your f------ asses, you motherf------ going to pay for all this s---,” one passage read, according to Gayman.
“F--- all cops,” read another. “F--- you pigs.”
Photos of the passages were displayed in court for jurors, as were photographs of Bracamontes without his jail shirt on that showed various tattoos he sports, including one above his left breast that reads, “Sinaloa.”
Judge Steve White cautioned jurors that no evidence has been presented indicating that Bracamontes has any ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, and added that the suspect was born in Sinaloa.
Bracamontes is a Mexican citizen who entered the United States illegally numerous times, and had been living in Salt Lake City for about a dozen years before he passed through Sacramento with his wife and began the rampage that killed the officers.
Bracamontes has repeatedly shouted out in court that he killed the officers and wanted to kill more. White last week finally had him removed from his own trial because of his outbursts, racial slurs and threats against jurors. He has been watching the proceedings from a courthouse holding cell while his wife, co-defendant Janelle Monroy, has remained in court.
Until his trial began, Bracamontes spent most of the last three years in custody at the jail in Placerville, and as recently as last October was causing problems in the jail, according to testimony from correctional Officer Devin Dituri.
Dituri said Bracamontes was frequently subjected to strip searches after returning from court dates in Sacramento, but that he refused to submit to one on Oct. 27, declaring, “No, f--- you, I’m not your bitch.”
“You guys can’t force me to do anything here,” Bracamontes continued, according to Dituri. “Do you know why I shot the first cop? Because he tried to search my car.”
That was a reference to the slaying of Oliver, who was shot in the head as he approached Bracamontes’ car at an Arden Way Motel 6 parking lot.
Authorities say Bracamontes, accompanied by his wife, then went on a crime spree that included two carjackings, an attempted carjacking during which he shot a motorist five times, and a series of gunbattles in Auburn that killed Davis and wounded another deputy.
The prosecutors – Rod Norgaard from Sacramento County and Dave Tellman from Placer County – rested their case in the morning Wednesday, the 10th day of trial. Bracamontes’ public defenders already have acknowledged that their client is responsible for killing the deputies.
When the trial resumes next week, the focus is expected to turn to Bracamontes’ wife, who is charged with murder in the Davis slaying and is accused of helping Bracamontes along his path from Sacramento to Auburn, where he was arrested after hiding in a house.
Monroy faces life if convicted. Her attorney, Pete Kmeto, is expected to argue that she also was a victim of her husband.
In discussions in court after the jurors had been excused Wednesday, Kmeto noted that Monroy was present when Bracamontes shot motorist Anthony Holmes five times – including a shot to his face – in a failed carjacking.
“She saw what refusing to do what Mr. Bracamontes said, how that resulted in the injuries to Mr. Holmes,” Kmeto said. “It almost killed him.”