SANTA ANA (CNS) - The main witness in the attempted murder trial of a convicted burglar has gone missing, jeopardizing the case against the defendant accused of shooting a man in the stomach in a Stanton motel parking lot, attorneys said Thursday.
The trial of Chad Jamal Richardson, 32, which was expected to begin Thursday, was put on hold until Monday, with prosecutors saying they could not get the main witness to court. Jurors were sent home and will return Monday to hear opening statements and other witnesses while authorities keep looking for Amy Ramey, Richardson's girlfriend.
Deputy District Attorney Taylor Krone requested permission to dismiss the case and refile a new one against Richardson, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Larry Yellin rejected the proposal.
"I'm fairly certain I can't proceed with the charges without" Ramey, Krone told Yellin.
Ramey was served with a subpoena and showed up for court earlier this week. After she expressed her unwillingness to testify, prosecutors granted her limited immunity to speak freely about what she saw without fear of becoming the target of prosecutors herself, Krone said.
"She showed up for a bit (Wednesday), got up and never came back," Krone said.
Because she is such a critical witness, "I would ask for another bite of the apple" by refiling the charges, Krone said.
Richardson's attorney, Joel Garson, objected, arguing his client has been in custody since November and is demanding his right to a speedy trial.
Prosecutors "have known from the beginning she was reluctant to testify," Garson said. "That's not going to change and there are other ways for the people to proceed and they're choosing not to."
Krone added that his office sent investigators to the drug rehabilitation treatment center where she had been staying, but she wasn't there. A "be on the lookout" bulletin has been sent to local law enforcement as well, the prosecutor added.
Ramey is facing a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of a drug, according to court records.
Yellin rejected Garson's request to have his client released on his own recognizance. Richardson is being held on $1 million bail.
"I feel our best chance of getting a trial done and giving everyone their day in court... is to proceed as we are," Yellin said.
Richardson was convicted of burglary in September of 2012 in Orange County and burglary in April of 2012 in Los Angeles County, according to court records.
He is accused of shooting Marvin Eli, 28, about 1 p.m. Nov. 17 in the parking lot of the Riviera Motel at 11892 Beach Blvd. The victim survived a wound to his stomach.
Eli allegedly saw Richardson and Ramey arguing and attempted to intervene, which led to the shooting, according to Garson. Prior to the shooting, Eli was seen reaching into his waistband, Garson said in court papers.
Eli has a criminal history that includes car theft in 2017, carrying a dirk or dagger in 2019, felony battery last year and a misdemeanor battery and assault case this year, according to court records.