By Jamie Moddelmog
After only two days and two witnesses, the brief drunk driving trial of Anthony Martinez concluded on Tuesday with the defendant swiftly found guilty on all counts by a jury. He was convicted of driving under the influence and of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over .08 percent. Both counts were given enhancements because his BAC was over .15 percent.
The day began with the testimony of the trial’s second witness, “MA,” who had witnessed the incident from inside her Woodland duplex. She testified that she saw a red pickup truck driving erratically across the street from her home.
MA said she heard the sound of “metal against metal” and saw a red pickup truck drive away from a white Lincoln that was parked along the curb. She believed the truck had hit the Lincoln, which was later proven false by police who showed up at the scene. No damage to the Lincoln was discovered.
After hearing what she thought was a crash, she came to the conclusion that the driver of the red pickup was drunk and called the police to report it.
When the dispatcher asked her to list the license plate number of the Lincoln, she said she had to step outside and walk toward the vehicle to make it out, because she was not wearing her glasses. The defense attorney, Richard Lansburgh, pointed out she was wearing her glasses in court. She stated that she wears them all the time “for distance.”
MA told the dispatcher that the red pickup parked on the corner of Sixth Street and County Road 24A, on the side of the street her house is on, and was halfway up on the curb. She kept an eye on the pickup and stayed on the call so that she could let the dispatcher know if it drove away. She kept her distance from the truck but watched it and did not see anyone get in or out of the vehicle.
She could not see the driver of the vehicle at any point in her observations, however, in a recording of her phone call with the 911 dispatcher she identified the driver as male. When questioned about this by the Deputy District Attorney Frits van der Hoek, she said that she was not really sure how she recollected that it was a male in the car.
She also mentioned in the call another car, saying she thought there “might have been another car.” She claimed that what she meant by this was that she thought the truck might have hit another car, not that there was another car driving.
In his cross-examination of MA, Mr. Lansburgh asked if she had ever had disputes with residents of the apartment complex across the street from her duplex before, and whether “her peace was ever disturbed” by them. She said that occasionally she had issues with noise and it was possible she had called the police one time to report a “domestic disturbance,” but she couldn’t remember for sure.
After the testimony of MA, the trial went to closing statements. Because the defense stipulated that Mr. Martinez was in fact under the influence of alcohol on that night and had a BAC of between .19 percent and .20 percent, the only thing that needed to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the People was that Mr. Martinez was actually driving while he was that intoxicated.
Deputy DA van der Hoek began by reviewing testimony given on the previous day by Officer Evan Black of the Woodland Police Department. Mr. van der Hoek stated that the defendant had his keys in his hands when Officer Black showed up at the vehicle, responding to MA’s call. He showed a picture of the car at the time Officer Black arrived at the scene and observed that the headlights were still on. He believed these facts suggested that the car had been driven very recently.
In addition, he stated that MA’s testimony that she saw no one get in or out of the vehicle after it had pulled over to the curb pointed to the conclusion that it was Mr. Martinez that MA saw driving around in the red pickup.
“Absent some kind of alien abduction scenario, there is no way the defendant wasn’t driving,” van der Hoek said to the jurors.
He claimed that, although there was only circumstantial evidence against Mr. Martinez because no one actually saw him drive the car, it was substantial enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was driving.
The defense then made their closing statements. Mr. Lansburgh told the jurors that there was simply not enough evidence to conclude that the defendant was driving the car. He brought up the fact that MA had not been wearing glasses like she usually does and needs to in order to clearly see things that are far away. He also mentioned that aspects of her observations had later been proven to be untrue, like her assertion to the dispatcher that the red pickup truck “sideswiped” the Lincoln.
Lansburgh suggested that it was possible that MA told the dispatcher false information “because she was sick and tired of what was going on on Sixth Street,” referring back to MA’s testimony where she stated she might have called the police on a resident of the apartment complex across the street once and was sometimes disturbed by the noise.
He claimed that her testimony was not credible, and, because Officer Black did not actually see Mr. Martinez driving the car, there was not sufficient proof that he actually was driving before he was found by Officer Black with a BAC of around .19 percent.
The People’s attorney, van der Hoek, was allowed to have the last word. He told the members of the jury in rebuttal that MA had “no reason to come in here and tell you anything other than the truth.”
He brought up a statement Mr. Lansburgh had made in the beginning of the trial on Monday, in which he said he wanted there to be a “fair trial” for Mr. Martinez. Mr. van der Hoek used himself in an analogy, explaining that if he were to fight boxer Floyd Mayweather, it would technically be a fair fight because they are in the same weight class, but that nonetheless he would be “knocked unconscious” because he would be overwhelmed. He believed the evidence in the case was overwhelmingly in favor of convicting.
The jury apparently agreed. In under an hour, the deliberations had ended and Judge Rosenberg was handed a “guilty” verdict on both counts, with the added enhancements. Mr. Martinez was sentenced to eight days in county jail, a fine of $1,958 and mandatory completion of a three-month DUI course.