By ALEXANDRIA BORDAS | Reporter
Standing just over five feet tall with blazing blue highlights streaking through her hair, 21-year-old “Swaygirl,” the suspected leader of an alleged “knock knock” burglary crew, shuffled into a Los Angeles Superior Courtroom on July 14 chained and shackled to her three alleged accomplices.
“Swaygirl,” whose real name is Chivetta Overstreet, was arrested June 8 along with Elanee Jarrett, 20, Evarald Fisher, 22, and Donte Caldwell, 22, after allegedly burglarizing a home on the 800 block of Oreo Place in Pacific Palisades.
Each faces one count of residential burglary as well as gang allegations although they are being tried as a group.
During a preliminary hearing in Judge Lauren Weis Bernstein’s courtroom at the Airport Courthouse, Los Angeles County Sheriffs testified that they witnessed the suspects burglarize the Palisades home before apprehending them near Sunset Boulevard and Paseo Miramar.
A nine-person undercover burglary robbery task force (BRTF) operating out of the LA County Sheriffs Major Crimes Bureau (MCB) had been tracking the four suspects for eight months, according to the BRTF lead detective on the case.
“This takedown and arrest was huge for me personally and it came down to the wire. For a minute I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to pull it off,” the BRTF lead detective told the Palisadian-Post. “Chivetta and I have been dancing around each other for a long time.”
(Note: The Post will not print the names of the two detectives who testified because they are still actively working undercover.)
Despite being charged as a group, Overstreet, Jarrett, Fisher and Caldwell all have their own attorneys. During the proceedings, each defense attorney argued different points on his or her client’s behalf, but the central focus seemed to be on disproving any gang allegations.
The prosecutor called three witnesses—two detectives from MCB and LAPD Officer Ian O’Brien.
They spent a total of six hours on the witness stand recalling every action of the alleged burglary and arrest frame by frame in painstaking detail.
“My car was parked directly in front of the victim’s home when I witnessed Jarrett walk to the front door and knock,” said the undercover ‘witnessing detective,’ who has 21 years of experience in the sheriffs department. “After several minutes in which she appeared to be checking out the house she walked back to the sidewalk, pulled out her cellphone and apparently made a call. She then proceeded to jump the victim’s fence and entered the backyard out of my sight.”
The witnessing detective recounted how he next saw Fisher walk past his surveillance car and follow Jarrett into the backyard by jumping the same fence.
“Approximately 10 minutes later I saw them jump back over the fence and walk toward a black car we had been tracking. This time Jarrett was carrying a tan leather bag or purse and Fisher appeared to be wearing red gloves, which I didn’t notice before,” he alleged, adding that he had been taking photographs the entire time.
When the next witness, the lead detective, took the stand, Overstreet appeared visibly restless and agitated. Over the next two hours as the lead detective recounted the eight months leading up to the actual arrest, Overstreet rattled the chains wrapped around her arms and waist and at one point even started to shout something before the bailiff gave her a swift warning.
The lead detective never once looked in Overstreet’s direction as he told the court about his history with the suspect, which he said included many run-ins over the past couple of years.
The prosecutor then called LAPD Officer Ian O’Brien to the stand to give his expert opinion based on his eight years of experience working with gangs throughout Los Angeles, specifically in the neighborhoods where the four suspects allegedly reside.
O’Brien told the court about the gangs he is familiar with—Yank Mob, Schoolyard Crips (SYC), 17th Street and the Geer Gang.
“These gangs are notorious for their activities that include robberies, burglaries, attempted murder and handling of firearms,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien testified that Caldwell, who goes by “Tiny Top” or “T-Top,” has tattoos similar to those represented by SYC members and added that he has seen video footage of Fisher allegedly associating with SYC members around the time of an unrelated shooting in the past.
“I have also observed photos of him (Fisher) openly associating with SYC gang members holding up hand signs on various social media sites,” O’Brien said on the witness stand.
Fisher’s attorney argued that hand signals could be misinterpreted and challenged O’Brien to interpret a number of signs for the court.
“When someone holds up a gang symbol in an Instagram post I am not going to misinterpret that,” O’Brien responded. “Not with all of my experience and close encounters with these suspects.”
The LAPD gang expert also told the court he has previously arrested Jarrett, who is also known as “Feisty.”
“Unlike Overstreet, Jarrett has admitted to being an SYC gang member in the past and at the time of her arrest she was very active, burglary being her main source of income,” O’Brien alleged.
At the end of the daylong preliminary hearing, the judge ruled that enough evidence was presented for the suspects to stand trial on the burglary charge and criminal street gang allegations.
“This is important because we are trying to support our case that all four are part of a criminal street gang that acted to benefit their gang as a whole,” the lead detective explained to the Post. “Their flashy cars and expensive clothes are used to entice future members, specifically children growing up with nothing,” he alleged further.
The lead detective also suggested, “The defense will try and ask for a deal but because it’s a package deal with these four suspects I don’t believe that will happen. Caldwell can’t take a deal at this point because he is on his third strike and he’s facing 35 years to life in prison. He can’t take a deal so none of them can.”
Suspects Fisher, Jarrett, Overstreet and Caldwell are being held on $140,000, $175,000, $1,000,000, and $1,125,000 bail, respectively.
They are due in court again July 28.