A felon arrested in 2020 with a loaded gun, drugs, and a large quantity of cash while drag racing through San Francisco’s Tenderloin appeared in federal court today after 10 months on the lam.
Javonta Lykes earned the reproach of U.S. District Judge William Alsup who initiated contempt proceedings against him this morning after learning of his escape from law enforcement.
Having been convicted of a gun offense relating to the incident, Lykes had been allowed to stay free pending an appeal. He was unable to abide by his bail conditions, however, and absconded when officials tried to execute an arrest warrant and imprison him.
This is bringing to a close a remarkable chapter which began with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office exercising leniency in disposing of the original state charges.
SFPD Tenderloin officers Prasadi and Bortmas stopped Lykes on the evening of April 5 2020 having seen him “drag racing” at high speed. A search of the car revealed a loaded pistol in the center console, which he admitted was his, along with drugs and $1,666 in cash.
He was booked for seven firearms, drugs and traffic offenses, although the San Francisco District Attorney allowed him to plead guilty to one count of street racing, a misdemeanor, plus probation.
Within one month of being placed on probation, Lykes was arrested twice. The U.S. Attorney subsequently moved to prosecute him for being a felon in possession of a firearm for the April 2020 incident. He was freed pending trial, although the record shows “numerous positive, adulterated or missed drugs tests” and multiple incidents of domestic battery of his girlfriend including strangulation in front of their children.
On February 14 2022 he was sentenced to 16 months of imprisonment. But Judge Alsup allowed him to remain free on bail while he pursued an appeal relating to the search of his car.
The court heard that the following months were marked by multiple bail hearings where he was admonished for breaching conditions. He was given a final warning and placed on a GPS ankle monitor by Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore
That night his GPS ankle monitor showed that he didn’t sleep where he was meant to be and a sealed arrest warrant was signed by the judge. On arrival for a meeting at pre-trial services, Lykes realized that he was, in fact, going to be arrested and imprisoned. He fled and was on the run for 10 months.
Speaking directly to Lykes, the judge lamented that, by absconding, he had thrown away his appeal. “I think I was correct on the issues,” he said, “but there was a decent chance of you winning.” The judge characterized the chance as about 1 in 3 – noting that that is considerably better than most appeals.
On the sentence itself, Alsup remarked that “16 months does seem pretty lenient to me for a gun charge.”
Noting that “it troubles me that someone could abscond like that and that there be no repercussions,” the judge initiated contempt proceedings and asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Leif Dautch to prepare a motion to that effect.
Lykes will appear next on July 7 at 2pm.
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