An appellate court has conditionally overturned the conviction of a Bakersfield man found guilty of resisting arrest after finding the trial court abused its discretion in failing to order the disclosure of statements five witnesses gave to a sheriff's internal affairs investigator.
The felony conviction against David Scott Byrket only remains overturned if he can show he was prejudiced at trial by the denial of the witnesses' statements, according to the ruling from the 5th District Court of Appeal. In that case, a new trial will be held.
If he can't show prejudice, the conviction will be reinstated.
Byrket was sentenced in December 2014 to four months in jail and three years of probation after being convicted of resisting an executive officer. He was 54 at the time.
Testimony at trial revealed the Kern County Sheriff's Office had concluded an internal affairs investigation into the arrest, and a deputy who Byrket fought with was not disciplined, the documents said.
The trial court withheld the release of the deputy's statement to an internal affairs investigator because it was not inconsistent with other statements he gave, according to documents.
And the statements of four other witnesses — all Sheriff's Office employees — were withheld by the court because there was no evidence those witnesses wrote any reports.
"Those are not grounds for denying discovery, however," the appellate court said in its ruling. " If the information is relevant and is not otherwise subject to exclusion under the law, it must be disclosed."
On April 21, 2013, Byrket's adult son called 911 and reported his father had "lost his mind" and was running around the streets near their residence in Onyx, according to court documents. Deputies arrived at the home and found Byrket running in the road in a "zigzag" pattern and yelling that his daughter had been raped and he wanted to go to jail.
Byrket voluntarily entered a patrol car and agreed to go to a mental health crisis center in Bakersfield, the documents said. But 10 minutes into the ride, a deputy noticed Byrket slipping his handcuffs from the back of his body to the front.
The deputy ordered Byrket to stop, but he refused, according to the documents. The deputy pulled over near the entrance to Red's Marina at Lake Isabella.
According to the documents, Byrket unbuckled his seatbelt and began kicking the window of the patrol car. He then indicated he would comply with the deputy's orders, but when the deputy opened the door he struggled with him and the two ended up on the ground.
The deputy had already placed two radio calls for assistance, and four deputies and two Kern County Parks and Recreation Department officers went to the scene. They handcuffed Byrket and hobbled his legs, the documents said, and he was taken to jail.
Byrket alleged excessive force and officer misconduct in his arrest, the documents said.
A doctor who examined Byrket about a week after his arrest found he had fractured ribs and a spinal compression, according to the documents. The doctor testified, however, that Byrket has a history of severe osteoporosis making him more susceptible to fractures.
A new court date in the case had not yet been scheduled.