This morning, Tianna Arata was joined in court by her three new co-defendants Marcus Montgomery, Amman Asfaw and Joshua Powell, who were charged with misdemeanors for participating in a local Black Lives Matter protest three months ago.
Today was the three mens’ first appearance in court since the District Attorney (DA) charged them and added them to Arata’s case on Thursday Oct. 15.
The hearing was continued until Dec. 3, when all four activists will appear in court again.
Arata’s defense attorneys, Patrick Fisher and Curtis Briggs, requested to continue the hearing because of the new defendants added to the case. Continuing the hearings provides the new defendants more time to decide how they would like to proceed.
The defendants could potentially join in on Arata’s demurrer, a defense that argues the charges should be thrown out because the facts of the case do not justify legal action, according to the Legal Information Institute.
Judge Matthew Guerrero read the men their charges and asked if they had been advised of their rights, to which all three men acknowledged that they had.
23-year-old Powell was appointed a public defender and is currently being charged with delaying two police officers.
Asfaw, a 22-year-old electrical engineering graduate student at Cal Poly and chairperson of San Luis Obispo City’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, is charged with one count of false imprisonment.
24-year-old Montgomery is charged with one count of false imprisonment, one count of resisting or delaying a police officer and one count of obstructing the free movement of any person in a public place.
Fisher requested a gag order this morning, which would prevent trial participants from discussing the case outside of the courtroom.
The defense objected to the gag order on the grounds of it not having been requested in a timely manner. Guerrero has yet to review the proposed order and either grant or deny it.
Audio by Marcus Cocova
Also appearing in court today on behalf of the California Highway Patrol for the Attorney General’s office was Anthony Gomez. Along with the city attorney, Gomez objected to the request for a gag order.
Guerrero concluded the hearing by saying he is changing assignments in January, but he intends to “hold on to this particular case and continue to see it through.”
The defendants will appear in court again on Thursday Dec. 3 for the continued arraignment.