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Preliminary hearing set in Davall case takes surprise detour

A scheduled court appearance for Joseph Chandler Davall took a surprise detour on Tuesday when the accused rapist spoke in open court and expressed his disappointment with the judicial process and requested to take his case straight to trial.

With slicked-back hair and a clean-shaven face, Mr. Davall was escorted into the Pomona courtroom in handcuffs and seated next to his attorney, public defender Anna Armenta-Rigor. The two talked briefly, but intently, to one another before Judge Tia Fisher called the case to set a preliminary hearing date.

“Defense has not received discovery yet from the district attorney.?We’re waiting on the DNA report,” Ms. Armenta-Rigor told the judge. According to Mr. Davall’s attorney, 90 percent of the prosecution’s case is connected to the DNA analysis and the defense requires the report for cross-examination. Ms. Armenta-Rigor told the judge she intends to have an expert evaluate the report, which could take up to four weeks.

As the parties discussed the timeline of the case in open court, Mr. Davall asked to address the judge directly and expressed his concerns with the timeline.

“I’ve been waiting for four months for  DNA results from the district attorney. I just wish to move forward,” he said, adding, “I’d like to request a bail hearing. I wish to be with my family.”

The Coachella Valley man has been held at Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles on a $5 million bail since his arrest mid-April. He’s been charged with seven felony counts including two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child; one count each of forcible rape; sexual penetration by foreign object; and assault to commit a felony during the commission of first-degree burglaries.

Mr. Davall’s request to skip the preliminary hearing and go straight to trial was against the advisement of his legal counsel, and Judge Fisher wanted to make sure the defendant was clear on what he was asking of the court.

“Mr. Davall, the defense attorney has the obligation to represent the client. A speedy trial decision is up to the judge,” stated Judge Fisher. “There needs to be a preliminary hearing first. There can be a waiver, but both sides need to agree. We’re talking major constitutional rights here. It sounds like you’re putting your right to a speedy trial ahead of having a competent lawyer represent you.”

After some consideration, the judge instructed the accused and his attorney to discuss how they wanted to proceed, holding the case for a second call later that morning. When the hearing later resumed, Judge Fisher set a preliminary date-setting hearing for September 23.

She also gave notice of a bail situation review to be scheduled for that day as well.

“He’s frustrated with the process,” said Ms. Armenta-Rigor of her client’s desire to move forward against her advice. “Many people don’t know that when there is DNA, fingerprints—really anything that involves scientific services—it does take quite a while to get the analysis done. There are so many cases and that’s an everyday tragedy we live. Somebody can spend more time waiting for their case to get processed than they might spend if they’re sentenced.”

Mr. Davall is accused of attacking and raping a 12-year-old girl on March 21 while she slept in her Claremont home. The victim’s father and younger brother were both away from the residence—although they were not together—when the alleged crime occurred.

The 34-year-old date farmer was taken into custody at his Yucca Valley home on April 18 after a short pursuit involving Claremont police and the San Bernardino County Sheriff. Police previously verified that evidence relating to the Claremont crime was found at Mr. Davall’s residence. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office confirmed that authorities linked the date farmer to the Claremont attack through the Combined DNA Index System.

If convicted as charged, Mr. Davall faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

—Angela Bailey


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