Penal Code 21310 is a California law prohibiting the carrying of “a concealed dirk or dagger”. The language may seem outmoded – who is even aware of what a “dirk” is? But the penalties for a misdemeanor violation can be a year in jail and/or $1000.00 fine, and for a felony violation, up to three years and $10,000.00. A dirk or dagger is defined as a knife or other instrument capable of being used as a stabbing weapon which could inflict significant and substantial injury or death. A folding knife fits the definition if the blade is exposed and locked. Good news for Renaissance Faire enthusiasts – if your blade is carried in a sheath, and hung openly from your waist, it may be worn per the state’s open carry knife law. However, other knives, such as switchblades, ballistic knives, or trick knives, like lipstick or cane knives, may never be carried.
The Mendocino Sheriff’s Office had cause to make use of the law in some recent cases. Earlier in October, on Monday morning the 13th, patrol deputies in Laytonville spotted Edward Taylor Esquivel Sr., 51 of Willits, driving in the area of the Cahto Rancheria reservation, located west of town. Esquivel was known to the department for past infractions, and was a suspect in a recent burglary investigation. His drivers license was also suspended, so deputies pulled him over on Lucas Lane.
According to a Sheriff’s press release, he was searched, and a fixed blade knife was found in his back pocket. He also had a couple of hypodermic needles carefully hidden in his left shoe. Esquivel was arrested on felony carrying a dirk or dagger, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving with a suspended license. He was also being held as a suspect in the burglary case. Bail was set at $15,000.
On Friday of last week a patrol deputy driving through south Ukiah, along State Street near the Grace Hudson Elementary School, Boys and Girls Club, and the Skate City roller rink, spotted a man walking along the road at 12:30 in the afternoon. What initially drew the deputy’s attention, according to the Sheriff’s Department, was a hatchet partially exposed in his clothing. The deputy stopped to address the man, who displayed clear signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance. When asked for his name the man gave the deputy what turned out to be a false one.
The deputy figured out it was a fake name, and learned his real name was Baraquel Ruiz, 28-years-old of Ukiah. A records search revealed two felony warrants out on probation violations, as well as his current probationary status. Ruiz was arrested four times last year on drug and probation violation charges, and celebrated July 4th getting arrested for driving without a license. In April of this year he was charged with being under the influence, possession of paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.
Carrying the hatchet with him brought a new charge of carrying a dirk or dagger, along with giving false identification to an officer and the more familiar being under the influence. He was booked into Mendocino County Jail on a no-bail status.
More serious, however, than a dirk or dagger is the possession of a deadly assault weapon. Last Wednesday at 10 pm, deputies on patrol in Ukiah, in the northern area of town near Ukiah High School, spotted a vehicle with a lighting violation at Despina Drive and Capps Lane. They conducted a traffic enforcement stop, and found two men in the car, 41-year-old Jon Paul Rickel of Ukiah driving, and 42-year-old Todd Wisniewski of Willits. A check on their identifications revealed that Rickel was a convicted felon on active probation with Mendocino County.
According to archives of the Ukiah Daily Journal, Rickel was arrested back in 1995 for an assault on his mother using a telephone as a weapon. His step-father tried to intervene, but he beat him with his fists. Another archive shows that the next year he was arrested on threats of violence and violation of a court order, presumably to stay away from his mother.
Other records show a series of arrests from 2006 to this year. Several of the charges involve violations of domestic violence court orders, though it is not clear if they stem from the incident with his mother, or from another victim. There are also several drug related charges, including possession and sale of marijuana and controlled substances and paraphernalia, and parole violations. In January of this year he was charged with battery causing injury, committing a felony while on bail, and parole violations.
In spite of all that, Rickel posted on his Facebook page on September 2 of this year that he was done with parole and had a positive outlook on he future. He wrote “Today is Day 1….not having to answer to Parole.. 13+ years – LIFE BEGINS NOW…. IT’S TIME TO SHINE AND SHOP THE WORLD HOW TO ENJOY LIFE WITHOUT NEEDING SOCIAL MEDIA TO EXIST. …. SEE YA IF I SEE YA.. OTHERWISE ENJOY YOUR COMPANY THAT IS ONLY IN YOUR MIND NOT IN YOUR PRESENCE.”
A few days later he posted a photo of Todd Wisniewski, saying “This is Todd Wisniewski a good friend. O’Ya and he is single for all the women who deserve a good man.”
But despite that, the deputies, aware of Rickel’s history and status as a parolee, searched the vehicle, and found a semi-automatic assault rifle, along with ammunition and loaded magazines. The weapon is illegal in California. They placed Rickel and Wisniewski under arrest for possession of an illegal assault weapon. Rickel was additionally charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and one more parole violation. He is being held under a no-bail status at the Mendocino County jail, and may face a much longer sentence under the provisions of California’s three strikes law.
Wisniewski, who doesn’t have Rickel’s extensive history, had bail set at $15,000.00.