By Gloria Ho
In the early morning of December 29, 2016, Cristian Valenzuela-Jimenez is accused of unlawfully entering a home at Heritage Oak Apartments in Woodland and attempting several crimes, against a 52-year-old woman, involving sexual assault by means of physical force and fear.
The defendant is being charged with five counts: count 1: Penal Code sections 288a and 289, oral copulation by force or fear, and Penal Code section 264.1, voluntarily attempting the act in concert with another person, by force or violence and against the will of the victim; count 2: first degree burglary; count 3: dissuading a witness; count 4: false imprisonment; and count 5: petty theft.
The preliminary hearing of the People v. Valenzuela-Jimenez began on the afternoon of January 18, 2017, in Department 12 with Judge Ramona Garrett presiding.
The People were represented by Deputy District Attorney Matt De Moura, and Mr. Valenzuela-Jimenez by Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke.
The People called the alleged victim, “SF,” to the stand to testify.
SF testified that she was sleeping in her bedroom when she heard a noise outside in the living room past midnight on December 29, 2016. She went to the living room to check and saw the defendant. She said that she didn’t know who he was and had never met him prior to that day.
“Do you live alone?” Mr. De Moura asked the witness.
“Yes. I asked, ‘Is anybody there?’ Nobody answered me,” SF responded.
Mr. De Moura asked her to identify the defendant in the courtroom and she did. She recalled that she smelled alcohol and methamphetamine from the defendant, as well as seeing his eyes roll into the back of his head at one point, and she knew that he was under the influence of a controlled substance.
SF was asked to tell the court if she had seen the defendant before December 29, 2016. She said she had seen him at her friend’s apartment, where he was sitting at the dinner table.
After getting no response from the defendant after asking what he was doing in her apartment, the complaining witness said she sat down on the couch because she thought he might attack her. He subsequently sat down to her left and held her hand and didn’t let her go. SF said he pulled out his penis and some meth, and he tried to get her to do some things she didn’t want to do. Following several more questions from the People, it was revealed by the alleged victim that he wanted her to touch his genitals and perform oral sex on him. She said he kissed her on her lower lip and forced her head down to his private area. She struggled against him when he forcibly held her down to the couch and covered her mouth with a pillow to muffle her scream. He also choked her to the point where she felt she wasn’t able to breathe during the struggle.
“He wanted me to go down on it and I didn’t want to,” SF testified.
She tried to escape but the defendant had blocked her way to the front door, so she made up excuses to go to the bathroom and go to the kitchen to get water but he insisted on following her. He went to the bathroom and left the door open while she sat on the couch. She then said she would call their mutual friend when he came back, but he threatened to kill both her and their friend if she called. She said she felt scared by the threat.
He took her phone and ushered her to the kitchen to get water. After she said she needed to go to the bathroom, he followed her but she ran to her bedroom on the way there and locked the door. She attempted to open the window to escape but she saw him running toward the mailboxes at the end of the apartment complex. She went to call 911 after that.
Mr. Gocke proceeded to cross-examine the witness and it was revealed that she didn’t know it was the defendant until she saw the lineup at Woodland Police Department and recognized him. She only recalled a big Hispanic 5’9” male over 200 pounds wearing a maroon sweatshirt and blue jeans, according to the report by a responding officer, Mark Gojkovich. She said it was due to her bad eyesight, and her left eye was really bad because of being punched there once.
The defense asked questions and it was disclosed that the alleged victim was a recovering addict and had claimed to another Woodland PD officer, Joshua Amoruso, to be have been sober for 18 months. However, it was revealed that SF had texted the defendant the day before, December 28, 2016, at 9:00am, asking him to buy her a pipe and a lighter from the smoke shop.
Officer Amoruso and his team arrested Mr. Valenzuela-Jimenez after searching his room and finding the red sweater and blue jeans SF had described. They also recovered SF’s cellphone, which they searched and found an outgoing text message to a person in her contacts named “Cris” saying, “Can you get a pipe and lighter from a smoke shop?” There was also history of two phone calls going back and forth between the defendant and the complaining witness.
When asked by the defense if she remembered the text messages and phone calls, SF said that her memory was not good and she didn’t even know how she and the defendant exchanged contacts after seeing him at her friend’s house just one time.
No further questions were asked and the witness was excused and subject to be recalled.
The preliminary hearing will reconvene with continuing witnesses at 8:30am on January 19, 2017, in Department 12 with Judge Ramona Garrett presiding.