The Wrong Man?
Identification problems plague McCoy murder trial in Pasadena
By André Coleman 07/03/2014
Jose Magana sat nervously in the witness stand as he testified about the death of his friend, Joseph Jones, who was killed two years ago during a botched robbery in Northwest Pasadena.
He never looked at Rashad McCoy, 24, the man accused of pulling the trigger in the killing. And, when asked in court to identify McCoy, he couldn’t do it.
“I couldn’t see his face,” Magana testified. “It was dark.”
Magana and fellow witness Juan Mendoza testified that they were pressured by Pasadena police Detective William Broghamer to name a suspect in the case.
“Go ahead and circle it,” Broghamer is heard saying on a tape recording after Magana told the detective that two mug shots resembled the man who shot his friend. In the audio tape, Magana is later heard refusing to circle the photo, which he testified was circled by Broghamer. Broghamer, Magana said, visited him several times to convince him to “help his friend, who could no longer speak for himself.”
Earlier in the audio recording, Broghamer cautioned Magana that he did not have to identify any of the suspects on the sheet.
But what none of the boys knew is they were not being shown the most recent representation of McCoy. Instead, they were being shown a six-year old photo of McCoy, who in the picture is dressed in a white T-shirt and a black baseball hat. This look matched the description given by Christian Jones, the victim’s brother who previously testified the assailant was a school-aged boy wearing a white hoodie and a baseball cap.
That photo was used instead of at least five other more recent photos of McCoy, all of which were shown in court on Tuesday.
During testimony, Pasadena police Detective Cuong Pham said he could not remember if he assembled the six-pack of mug shots that he and Broghamer used to help identity McCoy as the suspect.
“I try to get the most recent photos that I can when I put together a six-pack,” said Pham, who worked the case along with Broghamer. “Unless the lighting is bad,” Pham said he tries to use the most current photo available.
McCoy is charged with attempted, willful, deliberate and premeditated murder with special allegations of intentionally discharging a firearm.
The trial was expected to end and be sent to the jury Wednesday morning, after the newspaper’s press time.
One month before Jones was killed, Broghamer — along with Detective Keith Gomez and Officer Kevin Okamoto — were cleared in eight separate investigations surrounding allegations that they beat up suspects, threatened witnesses and hid evidence
On Feb. 7, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler admonished Okamoto and Broghamer for their conduct during the course of a 2007 homicide investigation and declared a mistrial in the case against defendants Jerrell Sanford and Michael Grigsby. Fidler said Broghamer and Okamoto hid exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys.
Sanford was accused of driving a getaway car in the drive-by shooting death of Shawn Baptiste. According to Fidler, the evidence favored Baptiste’s case.
McCoy’s mother, Keppie Moore, said Broghamer was doing the same thing to her son.
“I know [Rashad] didn’t do it,” Moore said outside the courtroom Tuesday afternoon. “He was in Palmdale. Jones’ family is hurting and I don’t blame them, but Broghammer has pumped them up.”
According to court testimony, on Sept. 26, 2012 Jones, Magana and a third friend, Juan Mendoza, were approached by an African-American man wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Joseph Jones ran inside the apartment to get help from his younger brothers, Jesse and Christian. The five men pursued the would-be-robber who hid in a backyard and shot Joseph as he approached him.
Only Christian was able to firmly identify McCoy as the shooter. Jessie originally described the assailant as tall and skinny, but later changed his description and identified McCoy in court.
McCoy is 5 feet 1 inch tall and husky. According to Moore, he has gained a substantial amount of weight while in jail over the past two years.
On Monday, McCoy’s girlfriend testified that he was with her at her home in Palmdale 60 miles away from Pasadena on the night of the shooting.
Meanwhile, cell phone data specialist Dwayne White said McCoy’s cell phone was used in Palmdale several times around the time murder occurred in Pasadena.
“We woke up in each other’s arms,” said McCoy’s girlfriend, Mykesha Blair. “He was still sleeping when I got up.”
Blair also identified surveillance footage of herself and McCoy taken in a Palmdale Food 4 Less shortly after 8 p.m. Sept. 26, 2012. Blair said she and McCoy made dinner for friends that night and were up until 2 a.m.
Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich attempted to prove that Blair was using the phone believed to be McCoy’s and pointed out that she listed it as her office number on a car rental application form she signed. That rental form also lists an address less than two blocks away from the murder scene as Blair’s address. Blair testified she was living in Palmdale at the time, but worked in Pasadena and Alhambra.
Blair said that Broghamer attempted to intimidate her when he interrogated her about the case.
“He kept telling me I was going to jail and was never getting my car back,” Blair said. “I cried for hours and hours. I didn’t even know what was going on.”
Last week, ballistics experts testified that they could not link the gun found in a garden on Newport Street near the crime scene to the bullet that killed Jones. McCoy’s DNA was also not found on the weapon or on a bike that witnesses said the assailant was pushing when he approached them.
Pasadena police Cpl. Alejandro Peinado testified last week that Joseph Jones’ father, David Jones, told him that his son begged him for money the day he was shot so that he could pay off a local drug dealer who had threatened him. According to testimony, David Jones saw the drug dealer, identified in court only as Joe, close to his home the day before the shooting.