Santa Barbara County Superior Court will stay open today despite the heavy rain and flooding associated with the major storm that hit the city Monday.
As such, a preliminary hearing will be held as scheduled in Santa Barbara for the transient woman charged with stealing a cell phone from a witness to a Christmas Eve rock-throwing incident that shattered the front window of Rudy’s restaurant on upper State Street.
The complaint filed against Nelly Gackowska, 60, charges her with second-degree robbery and grand theft from witness Rebecca Brand for allegedly taking Ms. Brand’s cellphone to stop her 9-1-1 call in progress, and to get the photos Ms. Brand allegedly took of her at the scene.
Ms. Brand contends the defendant repeatedly slammed her phone into her thigh in a successful attempt to pry her phone from her hand, causing a big bruise.
Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Branch and Ms. Gackowska’s public defender met in court Monday to confirm the preliminary hearing was still on for today.
“We just called the case and the prelim is confirmed for tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.,” the prosecutor told the News-Press on Monday.
A preliminary hearing is held for a judge to determine whether there is enough evidence against the defendant to proceed to trial.
Ms. Brand told the News-Press she has been subpoenaed to testify.
Ms. Gackowska has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, the maximum sentence she could receive is five years in prison, Ms. Branch said.
There’s been some confusion as to whether she also will be charged for allegedly throwing the rock that broke the restaurant’s window.
Ms. Brand said she was told no charges would be filed for that, but that she spoke to a Rudy’s spokeswoman who said the eatery wants to press charges against Ms. Gackowska.
“We are waiting on more information before making a filing decision on the breaking of the window,” Ms. Branch said.