Judge hears arguments by the defense for Kevin Epps in packed courtroom

Kevin Epps at work

Pack the courtroom again for bail ruling on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 9 a.m., in Dept. 11, 850 Bryant St., San Francisco

by #FreeKevinEpps

San Francisco​ – Award-winning filmmaker and community activist Kevin Epps of Bayview Hunters Point had his hearing on a renewed bail motion on Aug. 5. Because the prosecution entered evidence to the court the morning of the hearing, Judge Christine Van Aken immediately announced that she would not be making a ruling with respect to Epps’ release in order to review this new material.

Epps has been held in custody without bail since his unexpected arrest on May 7, 2019, over two and a half years since he claimed self-defense in the fatal shooting of Marcus Polk.

Because the prosecution submitted evidence to the court on the same morning as the bail hearing, Van Aken will now rule on Epps’ bail motion next Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 9 a.m. in Department 11 at 850 Bryant St. in San Francisco.

Although the prosecution requested that arguments be delayed, Van Aken allowed the defense to present its arguments for Epps’ release because she noted the “high number of people present” in the courtroom who had made a collective effort to hear what the defense had to say. The courtroom was filled to capacity with Epps’ family, friends and community supporters.

Epps’ two youngest children were also present and happily greeted their daddy when he walked into the courtroom. Epps lit up upon seeing them and softly addressed each one by name with a smile and said “Hi, I love you.”

Assistant District Attorney John Rowland for the prosecution somewhat comically appeared in court with an oversized white binder with Epps’ name dramatically printed on the front, in a very large black font, above what appeared to be the seal for City and County of San Francisco. Yet, even with such a large file on Epps, Rowland has still failed to turn over specific documents that have been requested by the defense these past three months.

Rowland told the court, “To my knowledge I have submitted said evidence,” yet Mark Vermeulen, attorney for the defense, stated that Rowland’s belief​ that he turned over the evidence is not equivalent to him having actually turned it in. Vermuelen must file yet another motion for this evidence from Rowland.

The evidence in question is related to three-dimensional animation produced by 3D Forensics. The animation is purportedly based upon specific evidence that the D.A.’s office possesses, but the office has yet to share this evidence with the defense. So, the question is: Why hasn’t the D.A. shared this evidence? Perhaps the answer is:​ Because it does not exist.

Kevin Epps and his younger children

Did the D.A. fabricate their own “evidence” by paying 3D animator, Jason Fries of 3D Forensic, $475 per hour to create their own crime scene against Epps? Vermuelen argued that Fries is not qualified in forensics and has not been provided with any substantial evidence, such as eye witness testimony, that gives legal weight to his 3D animation for this case.

Van Aken also requested that the defense submit all of the witness statements by the next hearing that were referred to in Epps bail motion. Vermuelen provided specific quotes from witnesses in the motion to argue that Epps is not a danger to the community. Understandably, Vermuelen did not provide the full transcript of statements as it was not required of him to do so.

“Why hasn’t the D.A. shared this evidence? Perhaps the answer is:​ Because it does not exist.”

Yet the judge expressed her interest in the statements themselves, not just the quotes. Vermeulen and Van Aken had some friendly banter over this request which elicited laughter between them as she seemed to recognize the volume of work her request required from Vermeulen. And, unlike the prosecution, the defense can and will produce what it has been asked to submit to the court in order to demonstrate that Epps is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community and should be released on bail.

Rowland had no rebuttal to the defense as he chose to argue the prosecution’s case at the next hearing.

“Because of YOU,” the Epps family writes to supporters, “the petition to Judge Van Aken to release Kevin Epps on bail had reached more than 650 signatures at the time it was filed along with the bail motion. The judge knows that Kevin has a tremendous amount of community support. As a judge, part of her role is to protect the public and the public has spoken and we will continue to speak out!

“So let’s pack the court again, not grow weary, stay strong for Kevin and make sure she knows that she works for the people and is accountable to the people to rule justly!

“Thank you again on behalf of Kevin and his family for your ongoing support!”

If you are in or near the San Francisco area, come and show your support. Let’s pack the courtroom, again! The hearing is Wednesday, Aug. 14, 9 a.m., at 850 Bryant St., Department 11, in San Francisco.

What you can do to free Kevin Epps

To support filmmaker Kevin Epps, please make as generous a donation as you can and spread the word; go to https://www.gofundme.com/x48br-free-kevin-epps.

Visit Kevin’s website, at https://kevepps.com/, and for more information, email freekevinepps@gmail.com.

#FreeKevinEpps

#PackTheCourt