It’s okay to say gang suspect looked like a Smurf

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Smurf (Not the actual one)

A rob­bery sus­pect may be feel­ing blue after an appeals court said Tues­day that a Yakima County, Wash­ing­ton judge could allow tes­ti­mony that he was dressed like a Smurf.

Ernesto Ruiz Cer­vantes, 21, is cur­rently serv­ing eight years in prison for attack­ing another youth in Wap­ato in a 2009 robbery.

The vic­tim tes­ti­fied that he was rid­ing his bike home just after mid­night on New Year’s Day when a car roared up behind him, caus­ing him to crash.

A young man he knew as “Smurf” jumped out the vehi­cle and, hold­ing a knife, demanded, “What do you bang?”

The unnamed vic­tim denied being in a gang. He tes­ti­fied that “Smurf” robbed him of his iPod and other pos­ses­sions and punched him in the head. Cer­vantes was pros­e­cuted after the vic­tim later iden­ti­fied him as “Smurf.”

Besides being iden­ti­fied with the car­toon Smurfs, blue is widely asso­ci­ated with Sureo gang members.

Cer­vantes com­plained in his appeal that tes­ti­mony about his nick­name and blue cloth­ing was prej­u­di­cial. Supe­rior Court Judge Michael McCarthy allowed it, thus, he lamented, con­sti­tuted an abuse of discretion.

Usu­ally, gang affil­i­a­tion would be pro­tected free speech, but might not be it it went to motive, said the Divi­sion III Court of Appeals in Spokane.

Pros­e­cu­tors used the tes­ti­mony about Cer­vantes being called “Smurf” only to estab­lish the iden­tity of the rob­ber, the court added.

The vic­tim and the police alike knew Cer­vantes as “Smurf.” He seems to dress like one as well, with blue shoes and a blue belt. Mush­rooms sim­i­lar to those in Smurfs engraved on his belt buckle.

The fact that the defen­dant was also dressed in Smurf attire when arrested fur­ther estab­lished the iden­tity of the rob­ber,” appeals court Judge Kevin Korsmo wrote.

The evi­dence was admis­si­ble and highly pro­ba­tive. The prej­u­di­cial impact was com­par­a­tively slight,” he added.

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About Mr. Clevland

MrClevland has been a cartoon fan since, well, infancy. He has been writing nearly that long. Opinionated, yes, but backed with a wealth of personal knowledge on the subject. You can give r. C a piece of your mind here.


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