by Bryce Gaston
On Thursday a jury quickly returned with a verdict of guilty in a DUI trial.
Theodoro Bustamante Mendiblez was facing charges for a DUI causing injury and for having a blood alcohol content over 0.15 percent while operating a vehicle due to an incident that occurred in December of 2017.
Late one evening that December, he was driving down Hwy 16 when he lost control of his vehicle and veered off the road, causing it to overturn and land in the middle of the road, blocking the lane. While bystanders attempted to remove him from his vehicle, another car collided with Mr. Mendiblez’ car, leading to a bystander having many broken bones and a broken pelvis.
The jury began their deliberations after closing arguments and found the defendant guilty of having excess blood alcohol content and guilty for DUI causing injury.
Previous: Closing Arguments in DUI Trial
By Esmeralda Mendoza
On December 9, 2017, Theodoro Bustamante Mendiblez was driving to Cache Creek Casino. However, as he was approaching his exit from CA State Route 16 he lost control of his vehicle and the overturned car got stuck in the middle of the road.
The jury trial of Mr. Mendiblez resumed in Department 14 with a male witness in his early 40s being called up to the stand to testify. The witness, who was brought from the Solano County Jail, was given use immunity, which guarantees him that his testimony will not be used against him in any criminal case.
Deputy District Attorney Fritz van der Hoek asked the male witness a series of questions regarding the incident that night through a professional Thai interrupter. The male witness, who at the time lived in Vacaville, CA, said that he was on his way to Cache Creek Casino, but as he got closer he crashed directly into the overturned car.
The witness added that he was blinded by the headlights of 2 other cars on the side of the road, and since there were no street lights or signals he failed to slow down. He noticed the overturned car only when it was too late. He also stated that he was driving 35-40 mph and that he had not taken any substance that could have impaired his ability to drive safely.
Next, there was a cross-examination led by Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez-Vasquez. Mr. Gonzalez began by bringing up a crime that the witness may have committed regarding a stolen lottery ticket. However, this case is not in relation to Mr. Mendiblez. One of the witness’ old roommates claims that the witness stole his winning lottery ticket that he left in his room. However, the witness denied the claim and explained that the ticket was his.
According to the witness’ testimony, he gave his roommate money to go buy him lottery tickets and when the witness realized that he had won more than $10,000 he left it on the television stand. Mr. Gonzalez-Vasquez asked the witness if he bought similar tickets and traded it for his roommate’s winning ticket, but the witness denied doing that.
What’s more, Mr. Gonzalez-Vasquez then asked the witness if he had ever used cocaine. He said no, but admitted having used methamphetamine two years prior to the car accident.
Last, Deputy DA van der Hoek began his closing arguments. Mr. Van der Hoek spoke to the jury in his final attempt to convince them that Mr. Mendiblez was drunk driving when he crashed, and as a result the witness crashed into him.
The People say that the defendant was in violation of Vehicle Code section 22107, in which a person cannot turn their vehicle from a direct course until the movement is reasonably safe. Mr. Mendiblez has been charged with two counts of DUI. Count 1 claims that the defendant drove the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Count 2 is that the defendant drove the vehicle with a BAC higher than 0.08%.
In fact, Mr. van der Hoek explained to the jury that his BAC was 0.15% at the time of the accident, based on how much alcohol he had taken, the time the sobriety test was taken, and the empty beer cans found in the vehicle.
Department 14 was adjourned at noon and was set to reconvene that afternoon. Mr. Van der Hoek and Mr. Gonzalez-Vasquez would finish their closing arguments during that time.
Remaining Closing Arguments
By Bryce Gaston
Theodoro Bustamante Mendiblez is facing charges for a DUI causing injury and for having a blood alcohol content over 0.15 percent while operating a vehicle due to an incident that occurred in December of 2017.
Late one evening in December of 2017, he was driving down Hwy 16 when he lost control of his vehicle and veered off the road, causing it to overturn and land in the middle of the road, blocking the lane. While bystanders attempted to remove him from his vehicle, another car collided with Mr. Mendiblez’ car, leading to a bystander having many broken bones and a broken pelvis.
On Thursday afternoon the jury trial for Mr. Theodoro Bustamante Mendiblez resumed for the closing arguments by Deputy Public Defender Jose Gonzalez-Vasquez and Deputy District Attorney Fritz van der Hoek, representing the People.
Mr. Gonzalez-Vasquez explained to the jury that this case was not a question of whether or not Mr. Mendiblez had been driving drunk but of whether or not he was the substantial cause for the victim’s injuries. He argued that it was the second collision that was the cause of the injuries, and since Mr. Mendiblez’ car was overturned at that point, it was not his fault for the harm caused to the victim.
Representing the People, Mr. van der Hoek refuted these claims by explaining how the chain of events that night all led back to Mr. Mendiblez’ actions. He argued that if it were not for Mr. Mendiblez driving under the influence that night, he never would have lost control of his vehicle, the car would not have been blocking the lane, the bystanders would not have been in the road, and the second car would never have crashed. Therefore, he saw the defendant responsible for the harm the victim suffered and urged the jury to find Mr. Mendiblez guilty of DUI causing injury.
The jury began their deliberations that afternoon and found the defendant guilty of having excess blood alcohol content and guilty for DUI causing injury.