Stabbing with Great Bodily Injury Jury Trial November 2016 NOT GUILTY VERDICT (C1501360)
I represented a young man named Jesse. He was accused of slicing the cheek of his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in a fight that occurred at a bar in San Jose, California. Jesse was also initially charged with shooting a second person in the parking lot of the bar. The assault with a deadly weapon and great bodily injury upon the second “victim” was dismissed at the Preliminary Examination as there was no evidence connecting Jesse to the shooting and by all accounts Jesse and his girlfriend, Nina, had driven off prior to the shooting. The judge would not allow evidence of the subsequent shooting not connected to my client into evidence as evidence that there were others with motive to harm the alleged victims.
There were many inconsistent statements made by the victim, Beltran and by his brother, Serrano. Both accused Jesse without claiming to have seen him cut Mr. Beltran in the face. Nina lied to the police and said that she was NOT with Jesse at the bar that night. She said that she and another unnamed man, entered the bar that night. The victim’s brother, Mr. Serrano, confronted her and the man she was with that night. She said that her ex-boyfriend, Mr. Beltran, is always causing “drama,” and that he and his friends, surrounded the man she was with and the armed Bouncer, escorted them both out of the club to the parking lot and she left. She told the investigating officer that she drove off and nothing happened.
The investigating officer had seen the cut on her ex-boyfriend’s face at the hospital. He accused her of lying. At the trial, she admitted she lied to protect Jesse. They were escorted by the Bouncer to the parking lot. She and Jesse talked to the Bouncer until he got a call on his walkie talkie and they got into her car and she drove them home.
We located and interviewed the armed Bouncer, whose name was Dante. He confirmed Nina’s statement. Jesse was surrounded by a group, who had been drinking all night, bottle service of Hennessey Brandy with 3 to 5 bottles for a table of 8. Dante testified that he grabbed Jesse and escorted him to the front of the bar. Jesse asked why he was being kicked out when clearly the others were the aggressors. Dante told Jesse that he just “saved” Jesse’s life and that Jesse should be thanking him. Dante said that he talked to Jesse and to Nina, when he received a radio call that, “All hell broke loose” inside the bar.
My investigator also located and interviewed the bartender, Rachael, who confirmed the details of the testimony of the Bouncer, Dante. A major fight had broken out in the bar. There were people everywhere. Chairs were being thrown. The bar owner discharged a mace bomb. Dante was pepper sprayed in the face by a woman, when he tried to subdue her boyfriend. Everybody headed for the exits to the bar. Mr. Beltran said that is when Jesse returned to the bar and sliced his face, although he did not see the person who cut his face. Mr. Beltran’s brother Mr. Serrano, said that he saw Jesse hanging over the alleged victim but did NOT actually see Jesse cut his brother. The District Attorney only called Mr. Beltran and his brother and the investigating officers. The case was really about their inconsistent statements throughout the jury trial.
I began closing argument with the lie. THERE IS NO QUESTION that (Nina) lied to protect Jesse. SHE IS A TERRIBLE LIAR. Officer Castillo, questioned Nina; This is the night that, um, Miles got stabbed. Nina immediately said, “Miles did NOT get stabbed. The officer said, “He did get stabbed, I saw him. I went to the hospital. Nina says, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know anything at all.” Officer Castillo tells her that it is in her best interest to be honest and “Just tell me your side of things, because there are two sides to every story.”
Nina says, “Yes, I know that. And, Miles has been claiming a lot of things because he is mad that I got with him [Jesse].
BUT OFFICER CASTILLO DOES NOT LISTEN TO HER SIDE OF THE STORY. He cuts her off and says, “And, uh, what we’re talking about is the night that he got stabbed.” Nina says, “Okay, well, I don’t know anything about that.” Later she says, “Whenever anything happened, I was not there.” Basically, she says, “nothing happened. She went to the club. Mr. Beltran created some drama. They left and nothing happened.
DO ANY OF THE JURY MEMBERS REMEMBER ME ASKING A QUESTION TO ONE OF YOU WHO IS AN ENGINEER? What is the problem when someone sets out to prove what he or she already believes to be true?
Officer Castillo begins with the premise that Beltran was cut in the face and he sets out to prove that Nina an Jesse were both there. He will not listen to what she has to say about the ex-boyfriend, who sent her nasty text messages threatening to kill her and Jesse. Officer Castillo doesn’t listen to her when she is saying that she and Mr. Beltran are going through a custody battle.
When all you know is that Jesse did not cut Mr. Beltran’s face and that she and Jesse left, then, NOTHING HAPPENED.
INDEED, MR. BELTRAN’S FACE WAS CUT FROM HIS EAR TO THE CORNER OF HIS MOUTH. But he was very drunk. He never saw who cut him. Nina and Jesse were there for a short time and had left. And, Mr. Beltran wanted to blame somebody.
The jury returned a NOT GUILTY verdict.