Prosecutors indicted a Hillsborough man accused of fatally shooting his friend several times during an argument, sidestepping a preliminary hearing on the evidence and propelling the 30-year-old straight to trial on murder and gun charges.
Bradley Allen Kleiman has claimed the shooting of Christopher Calvache, which included two shots in the head and once in the buttocks, was an accident but prosecutors believe the pair may have been arguing over a marijuana business.
The District Attorney’s Office took Kleiman’s case to the grand jury to “move it along,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Although Kleiman was arrested just after Calvache’s June death, he has yet to enter a plea and criminal proceedings are currently on hold while doctors evaluate his competency. The pending competency decision was another factor in seeking an indictment, Wagstaffe said.
Hospitalized defendants who are not returned for trial within three years and do not have an indictment will have the case dismissed, Wagstaffe said.
The grand jury returned its decision last Thursday. Unlike a preliminary hearing, a grand jury hears testimony and makes a decision behind closed doors. The defense is not present and does not have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
Kleiman appeared in court yesterday for arraignment on the indictment but did not enter a plea because his attorney was unavailable. He is expected back Tuesday.
Defense attorney Tony Gibbs said he was not surprised by the indictment and had “a little bit” of a suspicion the prosecution would take that route.
The transcript of the testimony on which the grand jury based its decision will remain sealed for 10 days.
According to prosecutors, Kleiman called 911 just after 6 p.m. that Tuesday to report shooting Calvache, 30, in a pool house detached from a five-bedroom main house on De Sabla Road where his parents live. Calvache and Kleiman were the only ones on the property at the time. Kleiman said he shot Calvache during a struggle after his friend pulled a gun on him.
Calvache was shot twice in the head and once in the buttocks, according to prosecutors who also say the friends had planned to go to dinner together before the altercation. When police arrived, they reportedly found Kleiman carrying marijuana plants in the backyard and a weapon and casings inside the pool house. Authorities have not confirmed who owned the gun.
Kleiman was on parole at the time of the shooting for felony driving under the influence causing injury and reckless evading a police officer. He also had a narcotics possession charge in Santa Barbara.
Gibbs, who has represented Kleiman for 16 years, said his client has a long history of mental illness.
“I’ve been there and it’s a been a rocky road,” Gibbs said.
On Nov. 18, two court-appointed doctors are scheduled to tell the court whether Kleiman is competent to aid in his own defense or should be treated at a state mental hospital.
In September, Judge Richard Livermore sought a competency evaluation before Kleiman entered a plea. Gibbs said the decision is actually mutually beneficial for his client and the District Attorney’s Office.
“I believe that the prosecution and the defense agree we need to sort out whether he is competent or not before we do anything else,” he said.
Kleiman remains in custody on no-bail status.