Jury Finds Earnest Not Guilty of Child Abuse; Hangs on Assault with Possibility of Retrial

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By Lauren Jaech

In Department 13, the case of the People v. Ronnie Earnest concluded on Friday afternoon with the jury finding Mr. Earnest not guilty of the first charge against him, child abuse and endangerment causing corporal injury, for an incident with his daughter on March 14, 2018.

The jury could not come to a consensus regarding the second charge against Mr. Earnest, which was simple assault. Because of this, the second charge was declared a mistrial.

Mr. Earnest will return to court on March 15 for a trial setting conference for trailing charges. At this time, the People will announce whether or not they intend to retry the case.

Previous: Closing Arguments Completed in Alleged Child Abuse Case

By Esmeralda Mendoza

The trial of Ronnie Earnest resumed Thursday with the defense’s final closing arguments and the prosecution’s rebuttal, and then the jurors were sent to deliberation. To recap, Ronnie Earnest is being charged with causing great bodily injury to his daughter, then 14 years old, in the backseat of the car and dragging her into the apartment to continue the assault.

Peter Borruso, deputy public defender, finished his closing arguments Thursday morning by explaining, “Earnest did not beat his daughter that day and is not guilty of all the charges.”

Only 30 seconds after being in the apartment, Mr. Earnest was put in handcuffs because of all the blood the police saw. The police did not know about the daughter’s history of nosebleeds or that she had been in a school fight that same day.

Mr. Borruso explained that the prosecution is trying to make Mr. Earnest look like the “bad guy,” with their arguments being one-sided and not correctly depicting how common the daughter’s nosebleeds occur or the severity of the school fight she was involved in.

Mr. Borruso then explained what he believed occurred on the afternoon of the incident. Mr. Earnest’s daughter was having a terrible day at school, she had gotten in a fight, and had a bad attitude toward everyone.

The daughter was unwilling to leave the backseat of the car when she arrived at the apartment to treat her nosebleed. She was calling her father derogatory names and she continued to be uncooperative.

Mr. Earnest went to the backseat and carried his daughter into the apartment.

Mr. Borruso proceeded to show the jury a picture of Mr. Earnest’s daughter at the hospital after everything had cleared up. There was no apparent swelling, bruising, or injuries in the picture. In fact, her nose ring appeared intact.

Next, Daniele M. Schlehofer, deputy district attorney, gave the People’s rebuttal before the court sent the jurors to the deliberation room.

Ms. Schlehofer explained that Mr. Earnest caused his daughter great bodily injuries the day of the incident.

Ms. Schlehofer illustrated that Mr. Earnest went to the backseat of the car to aggressively punch his daughter. Mr. Earnest did not have the right to violently attack the teen, regardless of the fact that he is her father or that she was using demeaning vocabulary.

Mr. Earnest then dragged the teen into the apartment and continued to physically assault her.

Loud screams and yelling were heard by witnesses.

The prosecutor showed the jury pictures of the teenager’s bloody face before she had been treated by the doctors. Simply put, the prosecutor believes Mr. Earnest wanted to display his “power and control” over his daughter, and this is why he physically hurt her.

Next, Ms. Schlehofer attempted to debunk Mr. Borruso’s arguments regarding the school fight and history of nosebleeds. There is no evidence that the school fight caused the teen great bodily injury, the school fight consisted of hair pulling. The prosecutor reminded the jury that when the teen testified she explained that she was not hurt from the fight.

Moreover, the prosecutor explained that the blood found on the teen is substantially more than a typical nosebleed. In fact, there was no evidence that the teen had frequent nosebleeds. The only prior nosebleeds she has had were once from getting hit from a tether ball and another from allergies.

Ms. Schlehofer ended her rebuttal by explaining that Mr. Earnest’s actions were not reasonable discipline, and regardless of whether the teen was his child, he does not have the right to cause her unjustifiable pain.

Finally, Judge Paul Richardson gave the jury instructions and they were sent to the deliberation room to reach a verdict on the case.

The case is set to reconvene Friday morning at 8:30am.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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