For the second time in as many days, several defense attorneys representing clients in the Korey Kauffman murder case requested that the preliminary hearing be continued. On Wednesday, the attorneys argued they haven’t had sufficient time to review the rap sheet of a prosecution witness who began testifying in the afternoon, as well as the next six scheduled witnesses.
The defense wants time to review the witnesses’ prior arrests and convictions so they might impeach their testimony.
Judge Barbara Zuniga denied the request but asked Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira to, for the rest of the week, produce witnesses without a criminal history.
One witness, currently serving a prison sentence for domestic violence, did testify for about an hour before the objections by the defense erupted.
Ronald Cooper Jr. said he twice witnessed defense attorney Frank Carson engaged in heated arguments with people about antiques stolen from a 5-acre property in Turlock.
It was thefts from Carson’s property that the prosecution says motivated the murder of Kauffman, whose body was discovered in a remote area in Mariposa County about a year and a half after his disappearance.
The preliminary hearing, which started Tuesday, is for Carson and five other defendants. The preliminary hearing for two California Highway Patrol officers also accused in the case has been continued.
Kauffman was last seen alive on a night in late March 2012 as he left his friend Mike Cooley’s house headed to Carson’s property, according to authorities.
Cooper testified the confrontations took place at Cooley’s property on Lander Avenue, which shares a backyard fence with Carson’s Ninth Street property.
On two different occasions prior to Kauffman’s disappearance, Cooper said he was at Cooley’s property when Carson showed up.
On both occasions Cooper said Carson was found going through the glove boxes of cars parked at the property and he accused Cooley of stealing from him.
Cooper said Carson was red-faced and made statements that “You can’t steal from people like me. ... I’m Frank Carson, you don’t mess with me.”
Ferreira asked Cooper what Carson said he would do if he again found Cooley and his friends on his property.
“He would shoot them,” Cooper said.
Photos of Carson’s property were also shown in court on Wednesday.
Cesar Sanchez, a special agent with the state Department of Justice, testified about serving search warrants on the property.
Sanchez, along with detectives from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, first searched Carson’s property in July 2012. The photos Sanchez took at the property showed numerous old vehicles in the back lot, including a double-decker bus. There were also piles of scrapped household appliances, along with refrigerators, toilets, tires, big-rig trailers, outbuildings and a tractor.
The special agent photographed a large storage building that had numerous old vehicles. He said the vehicles looked like they had not been touched in a long while; some were in various stages of assembly. Auto parts, including vehicle engines, and auto repair equipment were found inside the storage building.
Sanchez told the judge that a cadaver-sniffing dog was brought to search the property. At that point, Kauffman’s case was a missing person investigation.
During cross-examination, Sanchez said he was never told that the dog had found a body on Carson’s property. The state special agent also said that investigators did not find any evidence of a body, a grave or weapons while searching the property in 2012, four months after Kauffman went missing.
Sanchez said investigators seized two laptop computers and a couple of computer data storage flash drives found inside one of the three homes on the property. Almost the entire property is enclosed by a cyclone fence with razor wire; a portion is enclosed by a cinder-block fence. Motion detector devices were found installed on buildings near the back of the property.
The investigators returned to search Carson’s property in mid-August, when Carson and seven others were arrested in connection with the Kauffman murder investigation.
Before Sanchez was called to the witness stand, sheriff’s deputy Noel Vento testified about responding to a report of a burglary at Carson’s property in February 2011.
Carson discovered one of his auto manual service books dated in the 1940s being sold at an antiques show in Alameda County, according to filed court documents. Everett Winstrand of Irwin City Antiques of Hilmar, whom Carson knew, told the attorney that he bought the books from a man who brought them to his store.
Carson went home and found locks had been broken off his 40-foot-long cargo containers. Antiques, from furniture to books, were taken from the containers; losses in the theft totaled thousands of dollars, according to Vento.
The preliminary hearing will continue Thursday at 9:30 a.m.