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Carrillo lawyer disputes evidence in middle-of-the-night arrest

By BRETT WILKISON, PAUL PAYNE AND RANDI ROSSMANN

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A lawyer for Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo on Monday suggested the young politician was hoping to share beers with a neighbor around 3 a.m.

Efren Carrillo (PD FILE)

Efren Carrillo (PD FILE)

shortly before he was arrested on suspicion of prowling and burglary outside the woman’s residence.

The assertion, two days after Carrillo was detained early Saturday in just his socks and underwear, provides a counterpoint to police suspicion that the incident had the marks of an attempted sexual assault.

It came as Santa Rosa police provided additional details from their completed investigation, including finding signs of forced entry at the woman’s residence and her report that she saw a shirtless man — later identified as Carrillo — outside.

The state Attorney General’s Office took over the case from local prosecutors Monday and must now decide whether to file charges against Carrillo, a rising Latino star in the Democratic Party who had been considering a run for the state Legislature.

Carrillo, 32, was arrested on suspicion of burglary, a felony and prowling, a misdemeanor. If charged and convicted of a felony he would lose his job under a state government code covering elected officials. Gov. Jerry Brown would appoint a replacement.

Carrillo, who represents the west county, has checked into an alcohol treatment facility and is expected to be away from his job for up to a month. In a brief written response Saturday to his arrest, Carrillo said he has a drinking problem. He has not offered any further public comment.

Inside the Sonoma County administration center Monday, employees expressed shock at the arrest. County administrators sought to keep the matter at arm’s length.

While Carrillo is a top county official, his arrest and treatment “really doesn’t involve us,” said County Administrator Veronica Ferguson. “It’s a personal issue. It isn’t a county business issue.”

His supporters and advisers have not denied his involvement in what they’ve characterized as an embarrassing and “foolish” incident, one they say was fueled by his alcohol problem.

His defense attorney, Chris Andrian, said Carrillo was “carrying a couple of beers,” suggesting he might have been seeking to have a drink with the woman shortly before she called 911 at 3:40 a.m.

Andrian said that while outside the woman’s home, Carrillo also identified himself as a neighbor.

“People who are going to go and assault someone don’t usually say, ‘Hi, I’m your neighbor,’” he said.

Police suspect Carrillo of first going to the woman’s bedroom window, breaking the screen, reaching in and partially opening a window enough to rustle the blinds — a sound that woke the woman.

She called 911 first to report someone trying to break in to her bedroom, police said. Moments later she called police again to say the person had knocked on her front door, announced that he was a neighbor and then ran away.

Officers arriving to the area of West Third Street and Stony Point Road — within a block of Carrillo’s rented Brockhurst Drive apartment — saw him carrying a cellphone and walking toward them wearing only underwear and socks.

Andrian, one of the county’s top defense attorneys, would not discuss further Carrillo’s behavior, including his reason for being undressed, citing attorney-client privilege.

Carrillo is scheduled to make a first appearance in Sonoma County Superior Court on Thursday but it is unclear what charges, if any, will be filed or whether the supervisor will attend.

Former west county Supervisor Eric Koenigshofer said he drove Carrillo to a Northern California treatment facility on Saturday after he was released from jail. He declined to identify the facility.

Meanwhile, the state Attorney General’s Office confirmed Monday it will supervise the prosecution of any criminal case.

The police report was delivered to the office of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch on Monday. She turned the case over to the state Attorney General’s Office under a statewide protocol to handle potential conflicts of interest.

Ravitch had asked the state to review the potential for conflict. Carrillo, as a member of the Board of Supervisors, has authority over her budget. The two are also political allies.

A Napa County prosecutor will be deputized to handle the prosecution under the attorney general’s oversight, said Joyce Blair, a supervising deputy attorney general in the criminal division.

Santa Rosa police have said Carrillo’s explanation of his behavior that morning did not add up.

Although police arrested him on suspicion of burglary and prowling, they believe his intent was to commit some type of sexual assault, according to Santa Rosa police Sgt. Terry Anderson, who supervises sex crime investigations.

Police have cited Carrillo’s state of undress, how he allegedly tried to get into the woman’s home through the bedroom window and how he subsequently identified himself as a neighbor.

On Monday, Anderson said the woman told a 911 dispatcher she’d seen a man outside her residence.

She was able to give a brief description, saying the man was shirtless, but she couldn’t determine if he was wearing pants.

“She did see someone at the time. I don’t think she recognized it to be him (Carrillo),” Anderson said Monday.

The sergeant wouldn’t comment about Andrian’s take on the incident or whether Carrillo was carrying beer.

But Anderson said the woman wasn’t expecting Carrillo to visit early Saturday.

According to their statements to detectives, they only knew each other through brief, neighborly contact about a month prior. There was no evidence of phoning, texting or emailing between them, he said.

“There was nothing she said, nothing he said, that leads us to believe they had seen each other prior to that day or even in the last month,” Anderson said.

“I have no knowledge he’d ever been in her home. How they characterized it, it doesn’t sound like he’d ever been in her house,” he said.

Following his arrest, Carrillo was booked into the Sonoma County Jail at 10:10 a.m. and released two hours later after posting $40,000 bail.

Andrian said he agreed to be Carrillo’s lawyer on Saturday. He would not say what facility Carrillo is in or who the woman was.

Police have withheld her name because they suspect she is the victim of an attempted sexual assault.

Andrian said it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove that premise — connecting Carrillo’s intent with an attempted sexual crime.

His actions were those of a drunken person who didn’t appear to have ill intent, Andrian said.

“Inference and proof are two different things,” Andrian said.

Police, however, believe Carrillo broke through the screen on a window to the woman’s bedroom. The screen was damaged when officers arrived, Santa Rosa police Lt. Paul Henry said Monday. It hadn’t been damaged prior to the incident, he said.

Anderson said he wasn’t sure what evidence police technicians had gathered, if anything, from the window. He said the technician on the case wasn’t at work Monday.

Henry declined to release tapes of the 911 calls, saying they were part of the investigation. He and Anderson also declined to answer a number of other questions about the incident, including the woman’s emotional state following the encounter.

Henry said that Carrillo’s cellphone was taken by police as part of the investigation but declined to say what, if anything, was found on the phone.

The arrest triggered a flurry of alerts to top political and law enforcement officials early Saturday.

Santa Rosa police notified Chief Tom Schwedhelm about the high-profile arrest. Ferguson, the county administrator, said she was notified by Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas.

She has not heard from Carrillo since the arrest. His district director, Susan Upchurch, told Ferguson that Carrillo was out on medical leave. She did not share where he was seeking treatment, Ferguson said.

Upchurch, who is overseeing the 5th District office in the supervisor’s absence, declined to comment Monday. An email to Carrillo prompted an automatic out-of-office reply citing his absence on medical leave.

Koenigshofer, the former county supervisor, declined to share anything about Carrillo’s version of the incident. He referred questions to Andrian, the defense attorney.

Andrian said Carrillo is ashamed and remorseful about what happened.

“He feels horrible,” Andrian said. “He’s embarrassed and he knows he’s embarrassed his constituency.”

Christine Castillo, a local advocate against sexual violence, said the supervisor’s arrest was troubling but that she wouldn’t rush to judgment about what happened.

Alcohol is never an excuse in any sexual assault, said Castillo, executive director of Verity, a Santa Rosa rape crisis center that provides services across Sonoma County.

“I think it’s very sad, personally and professionally,” she said.





8 Responses to “Carrillo lawyer disputes evidence in middle-of-the-night arrest”

  1. bear says:

    Nobody here is more skeptical or disgusted than me.

    But I bet that someone threw him out of a house in his underwear. Not something anyone would want to admit.

    I may have been drunk lots of times, but it never ended like this.

    I think we’re still waiting for the real story.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 6

  2. GAJ says:

    “His actions were those of a drunken person who didn’t appear to have ill intent, Andrian said.”

    Let’s change the scenario Andrian, it is your daughter who called you at 3am saying someone is trying to break into her window.

    I’m guessing your response would be, “well, honey, if he’s carrying a few beers go ahead and let the man in.”

    What a freaking joke.

    The fact that a local “advocate” against sexual violence can’t see how this incident could have gotten much much worse is beyond incredible.

    The “advocate,” though a woman, can’t seem to put herself in the victim’s shoes.

    The apologists are nauseating.

    Thumb up 55 Thumb down 1

  3. Grapevines says:

    “Former west county Supervisor Eric Koenigshofer said he drove Carrillo to a Northern California treatment facility on Saturday after he was released from jail. He declined to identify the facility.”

    Is there a Bottle Barn in Eureka???

    Carrillo’s lawyer is just attempting to put any spin on this that he can and bring our “Damsels in distress” BOS naughty boy back into good graces with the public. I’d almost expect him to say Thursday at the hearing that Carrillo thought he heard distress calls from the victim and had rushed over to her place in such a hurry that he even didn’t take time to dress.

    As for the ripping out the screen he was trying to obtain entry to “rescue” her from her attackers and was armed with what he grabbed on his way out the door, a 6 pack of Bud.

    He only knocked on the door afterwards when he realized that there was no screaming and he was just making sure that “everything was all right.”

    Must have been a bad dream. Just like his presence on the BOS. Just a bad dream for his constituents.

    Thumb up 42 Thumb down 1

  4. Henry Bernard says:

    FILE UNDER: IRONIC or TOO DAMN WEIRD

    EFREN CARRILLO | PUBLIC OFFICIAL

    Efren’s idea of a romantic date: “My idea of a romantic date is not the traditional movie or dinner (while fun for sure), but a date that possibly challenges us to do things that we might otherwise not do.”

    Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=269397403128466&set=a.269395709795302.64525.250660631668810&type=1&theater

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  5. John Claeys says:

    Notice how no one will touch “this” with
    a ten foot pole.

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 0

  6. Steveguy says:

    Does this site work ? It doesn’t seem to. Twice it didn’t load.

    In sort then, why have a brutal Captain Underpants run our County. I wasted paragraphs already. That is enough said for ” the first comment”

    Is this site finished ?

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  7. Elephant says:

    I wonder if Mr. Andrian was one of the ones who got this perp off on the San Diego assault charges. But either way, this pathetic attempt at spin is just digging the hole that Carrillo is in deeper. Like the comic said “You can’t fix stupid”.

    The only way for Carrillo to save any face at all is to come clean, tell the complete truth, plead guilty, and serve the time. But first of all, do us all (especially yourself) a favor and RESIGN from the BoS.

    Thumb up 43 Thumb down 0

  8. We need to restore respect and dignity to the office of Board of Supervisors for Sonoma County. It is imperative that Supervisor Carrillo, having been arrested twice, step down and seek treatment. We cannot allow him to continue on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors as he seeks treatment. He must resign now.

    Please sign the following petitions:

    To Efren:
    http://chn.ge/1aFQnOG

    To Board of Supervisors:
    https://www.change.org/petitions/sonoma-county-board-of-supervisors-oust-supervisor-efren-carrillo

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 1

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