Four of the five Cal Poly football players arrested in connection with an alleged attempted armed robbery appeared in court Monday for a preliminary hearing, where the first testimony in the case was heard.
At a preliminary hearing, the judge listens to several testimonies as well as examines evidence to determine if the case against the defendant is strong enough to proceed to trial.
Cameron Akins, the 5th Cal Poly football player arrested in connection with the alleged attempted robbery, did not appear in court Monday, and is awaiting another arraignment.
Four of the five football players — Dominique Love, Kristaan Ivory, Cortland Fort and Jake Brito — were together and decided to drive to the Cal Park Apartments area to, as the prosecutor put it, get some marijuana.
Fort was told to stay in the car and the rest got out.
Akins approached the front door of the nearby Delta Sigma Phi house, armed with a gun. Another one of the players may have been with him, the prosecutor said.
The first person Akins met at the door was Delta Sigma Phi member Nicholas Rimicci. Fraternity member William Reardon eventually came to Rimicci’s side. Fraternity member Forrest Baker was told something was going on and walked down to where Reardon was talking with Akins, the prosecutor said.
Piecing together the story
San Luis Obispo (SLOPD) Detective Eric Vitale appeared as a witness for the prosecution and recounted what fraternity members and other witnesses told him during the investigation.
What Rimicci said
According to Vitale, Rimicci told him he noticed two people roaming the area around the fraternity house. They eventually came to the door, where he was confronted by one of them. The person was armed. The gunman allegedly told Rimicci to “take me to where there is weed, cash or valuables.”
Rimicci told Vitale he complied and went to a room that may have had money. He returned to the men at the door and said he couldn’t find anything.
Reardon soon came to his side, then left. According to this part of the testimony, it’s unclear why he left.
Rimicci left again to see if he could find what the men wanted. However, he actually went to another room in the house, locked himself in and proceeded to call the police, Vitale said.
What Reardon said
According to Vitale, Reardon said he came to Rimicci’s side when he saw an armed man was confronting him at the door. The gunman then pushed the gun into Reardon’s ribcage, telling him to get things similar to what he was asking of Rimicci earlier.
Soon after, Baker came to the door. Baker asked the gunman what he wanted and the gunman repeated his request.
What Baker said
Baker told Vitale he was woken up by another fraternity brother who then told him what was going on downstairs. He walked down and saw the gunman confronting Reardon. The gunman told Baker to get him the valuables he requested of Rimicci and Reardon. Baker complied. Reardon left after.
Baker told Vitale he walked the gunman to an empty room but couldn’t find anything to give him. Soon after Baker and the gunman walked out, a light was shone on them. That’s when Baker heard someone yell something similar to: “Police, freeze!”
According to Vitale, Baker told him he grabbed the gunman’s hand that held the gun and twisted it behind his back. Baker recognized the gunman as Akins, an old dorm mate, Vitale said.
Three women who were in the nearby Cal Park Apartments told Vitale what they witnessed as well, Vitale said.
One said she heard a loud gunshot followed by several “soft” ones. She also estimated she saw up to seven or eight people roaming around the Delta Sigma Phi and Cal Park Apartments area and that there were actually two cars at the scene, not one.
Defense attorneys’ rebuttals
There were several points the football players’ attorneys disputed in Vitale’s testimony:
- There was no physical evidence at the scene to suggest shots were fired, as one of the female witnesses said.
- The amount of people the female witness said she saw was questionable.
- It is unclear if there were one or two cars.
Along with these points, each attorney asked Vitale if any of the witnesses actually identified their clients — Ivory, Fort, Brito and Love — at the scene. Vitale said no. Only Akins was identified by at least one of the witnesses.
Several of the four individual attorneys stressed their clients were not a part of the robbery plan.
“There is no evidence my client agreed to this robbery,” Brito’s attorney, John Denton, said.
Jacob Glucksman, representing Ivory, also contested that his client was involved. According to him, Ivory saw what was about to happen and said the plan was a “bad idea.”
Chris Casciola, representing Fort, said his client did not even know the defendants, being that he had only been in town for approximately two weeks. According to Casciola, he drove them because he was the only sober person at the party the football players were attending.
To prove this point further, Casciola said Fort’s phone was confiscated and showed no communication between him and the other defendants.
The preliminary hearing and testimonies will continue Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.