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Bail bondsman: Victim testifies against Waters

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From page A1 | January 11, 2013 |

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SACRAMENTO BAIL BONDSMAN Kenneth Waters stands in court Tuesday. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

All evidence for the trial of a bail bondsman accused of trading sex for half of a bail bond was presented Wednesday.

Deputy district attorney Trish Kelliher began her opening statement in the Kenneth Waters trial by telling the jury that this was not an ordinary prostitution case, that it did not involve a “streetwalker or escort service.” Instead, she said, Waters was “a predator” taking advantage of a woman who was vulnerable from just being arrested.

Richard Dudek, Waters’ attorney, gave a short opening statement, telling the jury to “analyze the testimony” and that “I think at the end of the day, when you hear the law … there was no exchange, there was no (violation).”

The prosecution’s first witness was Terry Brown, the general manager of the Best Western in Placerville on Missouri Flat Road. He testified that there is a record, both in a computer database and a hard copy, of who checks into rooms that is kept for at least three years. He noted the records show that Waters checked into the hotel at 10:54 p.m. on March 10, 2011. The room was a “king business plus with one king-sized bed,” he said. The log showed that Waters checked out at 11:43 the next morning, but there was no signature on the receipt “but that is fairly typical.” Although there was an error of the date on one of the logs, he said, he was able to cross-check with other logs to get the correct date.

Craig Hellberg, an investigative assistant with the DA’s Office, was next called to the stand. He was monitoring jail calls for an unrelated case when he came across two phone calls from the victim, who was identified during the trial as Jane Doe, and Waters. The calls “gave me some concern,” he said. He was able to identify the two voices and informed DA investigators, attorney Bill Clark and El Dorado County sheriff’s detectives Strasser and Fitzgerald. The calls had been discovered about a month after they took place.

Next to the stand was Gala Wilbur, an EDSO correctional officer of 22 years who handled the booking of Doe. On the booking form, which she was shown, it noted that Waters Bail Bonds was responsible for her to show at her April 26, 2011, pre-arraignment hearing. Doe was being held on $6,500 bond for a DUI with priors and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Wilbur testified that she knew Waters from working in booking for seven or eight years. Hellberg, she said, came to her with the phone calls and she was able to identify Waters’ voice.

The last witness, Jane Doe, was then called. The jury was let out while she was questioned about her previous DUI in Sacramento County and how she had a diversion of going to classes for 12 weeks — though Dudek believed it should have been 18 months, the duration of her probation. She said that all she knew was that she had to take 12 weeks of classes and that the felony charges she faced concerning having prescription medication in incorrect bottles would be dismissed. As far as she knew, she had not violated the previous DUI’s probation with the DUI that led her to seek Waters Bail Bonds. Doe was let out of the courtroom while the attorneys discussed the ramifications of her crimes. Judge Daniel B. Proud said that, based on what he heard, the evidence could not be used to impeach the witness.

The jury was let back in and Doe gave her story. She had been charged with DUI, having taken prescription drugs — anti-anxiety and a muscle relaxant — the night before. However, she later claimed that she had gone off the road as a result of texting and that the drugs had since worn off. As she had not been in general population of the Sacramento Jail, she was afraid what would happen if she were let into the El Dorado County Jail’s general population so she called the first company that said it handled DUI bail bonds — Waters Bail Bonds. “I’ve never been in jail in general population,” she said. “I was kind of scared of girls being mean.”

After two conversations — both played for the jury — Waters agreed to bail her out. Kelliher claimed that Waters was flirting with her. He asked questions including “Are you cute”? and “You got all your parts? Everything still work OK?” He asked her whether she had any children, and after finding out she had a boyfriend, whether she was “exploring other options” in terms of men. She giggled throughout the calls, which she later said was due to nervousness.

She said she was unsure of what was going on during the calls, but that she was uncomfortable. She said that, while she was unemployed, she received disability payments and did work on the side in a friend’s tattoo shop and “something else I’d rather not say.” Waters asked if that was “like a professional-type person” and she said yes. When asked why she said that, Doe said “I really don’t know.” She said she wanted to “try to make him think something else.”

While she had lived with her aunt in East Bay for two weeks, she said, acquaintances had listed her on Craigslist in the Women Seeking Men section, saying she could make money, but she was unsure how, she said. “I was just going along with it; they told me to make money.”

When asked what she meant when she told Waters on the phone that a “half and half” deal could be made, she said that “I was pretty confused. When I said half and half, I meant pay half in a few days and half later.” Not, as Waters would take it to mean, that half could be paid with sexual acts. To her, “work something out” meant the payment situation. She testified that she never paid anything to Waters.

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