Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg announced today that William Kerr was convicted by a jury on September 24, 2018 before Judge Kevin M. Seibert of three felony counts. The crimes included: first degree residential burglary with person present, inflicting injury to a person with whom the defendant had a dating relationship, and battery causing serious bodily injury. The jury acquitted the defendant of robbery and attempted robbery. Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Novelli prosecuted the case for the People.
On July 16, 2017, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office contacted the victim, who had an obvious injury to her neck which included a laceration. The victim was very upset but was able to tell the officer that she had been staying at the Columbia Inn Motel after her home had burned down. She was sleeping when she heard someone knocking on the door trying to get in. The victim got up, went to the door when it was forced open, striking her in the face, causing her to fall. The victim was in and out of consciousness but could hear the voice of the defendant (her on-and-off boyfriend) asking multiple times where her money was. The victim could also feel a sharp edged pain against her throat and believed it to be the machete the defendant always carried.
Prior to Sheriff’s Office arriving, the victim had called a close friend whom she confided in with what had happened. The friend rushed to the victim’s side and contacted the owners of the Columbia Inn Motel. The victim told the owners what happened and they offered immediate assistance. When officers went to the motel room of where the incident occurred, there was a foot mark on the door and the jam was broken with splintered pieces of wood lying inside the room, consistent with the door being kicked in. All of the drawers in the room were opened, and the officers could not find the money that the victim had previously hidden in a drawer.
Unfortunately as what often occurs in domestic violence relationships, after the defendant was arrested and charged, the victim and the defendant remained in a romantic relationship at which time the victim wrote a letter to the District Attorney’s Office indicating the incident had been her fault and that she had found the alleged missing money. At trial, the victim testified that the only thing she could remember that night was the door being forced open and striking her. She admitted that when she wrote the letter taking blame for what happened, it had only been after talking to other individuals who told them their versions of what occurred that night. Luckily, the witnesses that came in contact with the victim that night were able to describe to the jury the victim’s emotional state, the injuries she suffered, and what she had told each of them at different times about what occurred.
The District Attorney’s Office would like to thank the members of the jury for their careful attention to the case and their thoughtful deliberations. A special thank you goes to Victim Advocate Janee Fleming and Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office Investigators Javier Ramos and Jeff Snyder for ensuring the victim was present to testify. Ms. Novelli would also like to thank the civilian witnesses who cooperated, ensuring that a violent criminal was brought to justice. Mr. Kerr is due to be sentenced on October 24, 2018 in Department Four of the Tuolumne County Superior Court. After the verdicts, the defendant admitted to three strike priors, which included prior convictions for arson, criminal threats, and battery causing serious bodily injury as well as multiple prison priors. As a result, he faces up to 20 years plus 25 years to life in State Prison.