SAN JOSE (BCN) — A judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court today ordered a San Jose police officer charged with rape and assault to be held without bail and denied all defense requests to reduce charges and remove enhancements that carry potential life sentences.
Judge JoAnne McCracken set an arraignment hearing for Officer Geoffrey Evatt Graves for March 30 when a date would be set for his jury trial on the rape charge and two felony domestic violence charges, which would come within 60 days.
McCracken, ruling at the end of Graves’ preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to proceed to trial, sided with arguments by Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega on all of the matters he as prosecutor presented against Graves.
The judge said she denied him bail, despite a recommendation by the county Office of Pretrial Services to grant him supervised release, based on evidence of Graves’ use of alcohol and drugs and his showing “a pattern of volatility, a pattern of violence” over the past few years.
McCracken said she was persuaded by the rape and assault charges and other examples provided by prosecutors that Graves posed a threat to the community and there was a “substantial likelihood” he could harm people based on his abuse of alcohol.
She noted specifically that last year, while Graves was free on a $100,000 bond granted last spring, he allegedly threatened to punch a clerk at a Safeway store at 3 a.m. while buying a bottle of vodka after alcohol sales were closed.
Vega earlier today told McCracken that Graves did not deserve release on bail because the defendant had a history of “frequent emotional outbursts,” a violent temper, an addiction problem with marijuana and alcohol and once harassed his former wife to the point she called police and obtained a protective order.
This morning Graves, 39, of Gilroy, and his lawyer announced he had switched his plea to not guilty from the no contest plea he said he wanted last Wednesday after prosecutors filed the amended complaint with five enhancements, including two carrying potential life sentences if he is convicted.
Graves pleaded not guilty to all of the charges last year.
He has been on paid leave from the San Jose Police Department since prosecutors alleged last April he raped a woman while on duty as a police officer after driving her to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel in San Jose following an early morning call about a domestic dispute she had with her husband on Sept. 22, 2013.
Earlier that night, Graves and another officer answered the call for service at the woman’s home before driving her to the hotel at her request.
The woman, a mother of five and an undocumented former resident of Mexico who resided in the United States for more than 15 years, said that he took off his duty belt, threw her down on a bed, raped her while wearing some clothing and his bulletproof vest and then left.
He is further charged with two counts of felony assault on his former girlfriend, a San Jose police dispatcher, in 2012 and 2013.
The two women testified at Graves’ preliminary hearing last Tuesday and Wednesday, after which McCracken agreed to remand Graves into custody. He had been free on $100,000 bail until last Wednesday.
Vega last week filed the enhancement charges against Graves, including additional years for burglary for entering the hotel room without the woman’s consent and 15 years to life and 25 years to life for entering and in effect legally using his police firearm even while it stayed holstered in his duty belt.
Graves’ lawyer Darlene Bagley Comstedt, in addition to asking for $100,000 bail today and supervised release as recommended in the pretrial services report, argued that the two assault charges did not rise to the level of felonies and should be reduced to misdemeanors.
he also requested that the special allegation enhancements be removed, stating that Graves entered the room with his gun belt, he removed it and did not use it on the woman or threaten to use it.
McCracken said that for purposes of a preliminary hearing, where the prosecution needed to show there was probable cause to merit a jury trial, there was enough evidence presented to warrant the three felony charges and five enhancements.
The judge said that the woman in the hotel room testified that she was aware the uniformed Officer Graves had a belt with a gun and other police weapons and she did not run because he was a police officer, was afraid and did not resist him.
Graves, the judge said, used his uniform to gain access through a desk clerk to the hallway of the hotel and entered the room with the intent to commit rape.
McCracken said that conceivably Graves might qualify for bail since it was not a capital punishment case, however under the California Constitution, when someone is charged with rape, a felony offense of violence and great bodily injury, she could deny bail if she believed there was a substantial likelihood that the person, in this case Graves, may harm others if released.
At the close of the hearing, Graves gestured to members of his family as he was led out of the courtroom and back to the county Main Jail.
After the hearing, Comstedt said that her client maintains his
innocence and that she would represent him at his trial.