By Esmeralda Mendoza
Christian “Kiki” Rizo was facing charges that included attempted murder, assault of officers, and assault with a semi-automatic weapon. After several days of deliberation, the jury concluded that Mr. Rizo is guilty of firing the shots; however, they could not come to a verdict on whether Mr. Rizo was guilty of attempted murder.
The jury hung on the attempted murder by a 8-4 margin, where the majority of the jury believed there was not sufficient evidence to find Mr. Rizo guilty. The court declared this a mistrial, and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that they will not retry the case.
The sentencing date has been set to the 5th of April 2019.
Previous: Does Gang Activity Equate Intent to Kill?
By Linnea Patterson
The closing arguments for the People v. Christian Rizo were given Wednesday in the second day of the trial. Christian “Kiki” Rizo faces 11 counts, including four counts of attempted murder, assault with a semi-automatic weapon with malicious discharge, firing at an inhabited dwelling, and assault on an officer among others. Included and highlighted in this case is Rizo’s criminal activity in the gang Vario Bosque Norteños, or VBN.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Vroman emphasized the case’s witnesses as key evidence against Mr. Rizo. Mr. Vroman recalled the testimony of the second witness, a former close personal friend of Mr. Rizo and fellow VBN member. The prosecution’s evidence relies heavily on this witness’s claim that the defendant told him he opened fire at police officers in order for other VBN members, Alexis Velasquez and Justin Gonzalez, to flee a homicide crime scene. According to Mr. Vroman, “In VBN you don’t claim things you didn’t do.”
The prosecution further argued that Mr. Rizo’s decision to aim at police lights toward the fence in front of the Casa del Sol trailer park as a supposed warning shot, instead of up in the air, proves his intent to kill. Mr. Vroman emphasized this intent: “He was trying to kill as many police officers as he could.”
Mr. Rizo’s attorney, Jesse S. Ortiz, III, rebutted in his closing arguments, contending that there is nothing to corroborate the former VBN witness’s testimony, and that he is helping convict Rizo “to protect himself.” Mr. Ortiz claimed that the scanner which the witness claimed Mr. Rizo checked on Facebook to know that his fellow VBN members needed an escape never in fact related to this case, and that nothing was actually posted. The first witness, the friend of Mr. Rizo who was driving the car, claimed she made the decisions on where to drive that night, which Mr. Ortiz called upon in his argument.
Mr. Ortiz then introduced a new exhibit to the court, pictures which included one from the dash cam on Sergeant Frank Ritter’s patrol vehicle, which showed the vehicle’s lights to be off. This contradicts the prosecution’s theory that Mr. Rizo willingly and purposefully shot at police offers. Further, another picture from Sergeant Ritter was the fence Mr. Vroman claimed was open and had a large gap Mr. Rizo could aim into. The pictures showed that the fence was in fact closed, and the gap in the fence was only several inches. Mr. Ortiz expressed his opposition to the prosecution’s claims, saying Mr. Vroman was “changing the evidence on what he wants the narrative to be.”
In his final rebuttal, Mr. Vroman countered Mr. Ortiz’s theory that there is no way the defendant could not have seen the police officers, by noting that the bullet found went through the fence and into the patrol vehicle. He dismissed the defense’s theory that the bullet ricocheted with a demonstration of its improbability, exclaiming, “That is some magic bullet.”
The deliberation, Mr. Vroman claimed, that Mr. Rizo had for killing police officers can be revealed in the anti-law enforcement lyrics found in his notebooks, as well as the words Officer Richard Towle claimed he heard as Mr. Rizo fired the shots: “F*** you n**** cops.” Again, the prosecution’s emphasis on Mr. Rizo’s gang activity and anit-police language was a cornerstone of their argument.
Judge Dave Rosenberg then sent the jury to deliberate, and a verdict is expected in the next few days.