More than 17 months since San Rafael teen Max Wade was arrested on suspicion of the daring theft of celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s yellow Lamborghini in March 2011 and attempted murder for shooting at two people in Mill Valley in April 2012, Wade, now 19, is getting closer to an Oct. 4 trial date on those charges.
Jury selection, scheduled for several weeks given the media frenzy surrounding the case and the potential difficulty to find a jury that hasn't heard of the case, begins Wednesday. Wade, who was 17 at the time of the shooting but is being tried as an adult, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he:
- Rappelled down from the roof of British Motor Car Distributors dealership on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco in the early morning hours of March 8, 2011, entering through a window and driving away in the $200,000 bright yellow 2008 Lamborghini Spyder Gallardo belonging to Guy Fieri, the celebrity chef who has hosted TV shows like Guy's Big Bite on the Food Network and Minute to Win It on NBC.
- Pulled up on a motorcycle to a white Dodge pickup parked outside a home on Evergreen Ave. in Homestead Valley on April 13, 2012, dressed in black with his face shielded by a black helmet with a dark-tinted visor, pausing briefly before firing five shots at the teen couple who sat inside and speeding away. Prosecutors allege that detectives eventually tracked Wade to a Richmond storage facility, where they found Fieri's Lamborghini.
But prior to jury selection, prosecutor Yvette Martinez-Shaw and defense attorney Charles Dresow spent Tuesday afternoon before Marin Superior Court Judge Kelly Simmons discussing security procedures for the trial, as well the admissibility of an array of testimony and evidence.
With Wade sitting hunched over in court Tuesday and appearing gaunt, first up was Dresow's attempt to have Wade unshackled during the trial and a subsequent compromise that involves Wade being tied to his chair, which is bolted to the ground, with a cord.
Wade's hands will be free and he will be able to sit and stand freely. A blue curtain in front of the defense table, as well as one draped around Wade's chair, will prevent the jury from seeing Wade's restraints, as Dresow had argued that visible shackles would prejudice the jury against Wade.
The attorneys spent much of the afternoon on “motions in limine,” or pre-trial requests to have certain evidence or testimony excluded from the trial because of its potential to be prejudicial. Those requests came from both Martinez and Dresow. Here are some of the issues that came up:
The Eve of the Shooting
Simmons had the attorneys agree not to reference sex or alcohol when
discussing the activities of shooting victims Eva Dedier and Landon Wahlstrom the night before the shooting, when Dedier was reportedly at Kodiak Jack’s bar in Petaluma before being picked up Wahlstrom and
driven to his home in Homestead Valley, outside which the alleged shooting
Victim's Text Messages
Dresow agreed to approach Simmons first before delving into questions about the “unsavory text messages” on Wahlstrom’s cell phone, one component of thousands of pages of activity from his cell phone in advance of the shooting.
Behavior of Wade's Friend
Simmons ruled that Dresow would be unable to bring up the past alcohol and marijuana use and a juvenile arrest of Andrew Lettieri, an 18-year-old friend of Wade at Redwood High School who testified at a preliminary hearing in October 2012 that Wade told him two months before the shootings that Wahlstrom “had his girlfriend” and that he intended to fight him.
Wade's Alleged Criminal Past
Simmons allowed charges and allegations that Wade faced as a juvenile, including his alleged theft of his mother Leylla Wade’s mother’s SUV in 2010 and his alleged breaking into a Tiburon mansion to host a party with more than 50 attendees, to be admissible only if Wade testifies. Simmons made the same determination about the similarities between the alleged theft of Leylla Wade’s SUV and that of Fieri’s Lamborghini – in each case license plates were switched and the thief wore a black ski mask, for instance.
Wade's Alleged Weapon
Simmons denied Dresow’s attempt to exclude Wade’s alleged possession of a semi-automatic handgun and ammunition at the time of his arrest on April 28, 2012 outside a storage locker in Richmond. Citing prior case law, Dresow claimed that since the handgun was not the weapon used in the alleged attempted murder, it was inadmissible. Martinez countered that Wade was allegedly reaching for the gun as he fled police prior to his arrest – “that shows a defendant who is so fearful of being captured that he is willing to take extremely dangerous measures to avoid arrest,” she said. Simmons backed Martinez’s argument.
The Not-So "Love Triangle"
Simmons brokered a compromise in which Martinez wouldn’t refer specifically to a “love triangle” involving Wade, Dedier and Wahlstrom. Martinez said that while text messages from Feb. 14, 2012 indicated in rather coarse language that Wade harbored feelings for Dedier, she argued that although Wade was aware that Dedier was in a relationship with Walstrom, “if a love triangle existed, it only existed in the defendant’s head,” and that Wade had shown “obsessive, attractive feelings toward Eva and was planning their demise.” She said Wade had viewed Dedier’s Facebook page upwards of 800 times in the months leading up to the shooting. Dresow said the term “love triangle” was “too popular culturally loaded” to be included, and that there was no evidence that Dedier had rejected Wade’s advances.
Storage Locker Items
Simmons ruled on the inclusion/exclusion of a variety of items allegedly found in Wade’s storage locker, including cell phone and radio frequency jammers, a San Francisco Police uniform, a binder of writings about ways to commit certain crimes, fake IDs and an AK-47, among other items.
While Dresow sought to prevent Marin County sheriff's Detective Ed Rudolph from testifying about where the victims would’ve been shot in the pickup truck had they not ducked, calling it pure speculation, Simmons ruled that Rudolph could say that if the driver was sitting in the driver’s seat as usual, here's where would’ve been shot. “You have to be ready to object,” she told Dresow.
Attempted Juvenile Hall Escape
After discussions between the parties, Martinez agreed not to mention the August 2012 attempted break-in at the Juvenile Hall facility, where Wade was held at the time. Authorities never found the alleged burglars but linked to the attempted break-in to Wade.
Martinez and Dresow agreed to use a binder of printouts of the contents of Wade’s computer that will be referenced in the trial. Referring to the thousands of pages of material pulled from Wade’s computer and cell phone, Dresow said, “So much of the communication in this case revolves around the life of a teenager in Marin – there’s a whole lot of chaff and a very little bit of wheat.”
The trial of Max Wade is scheduled to last through mid-November.