By Esmeralda Mendoza
The jury trial of the People v. Lucio Antonio Paniagua resumed Friday afternoon with four defense witnesses being called to testify. The witnesses included a psychiatrist, Mr. Paniagua’s nephew, Mr. Paniagua’s family friend, and Mr. Paniagua’s wife.
The psychiatrist began his testimony by explaining that he has experience working with child abuse victims. He also explained that he has worked for both prosecution and the defense in the past. However, he is a professional and, although he is getting paid by the defense, he will not let it affect the way he carries out his job.
The psychiatrist was hired by the defense to examine Mr. Paniagua and determine if there were any red flags that could indicate he is capable of sexually abusing a child. To complete his job, the psychiatrist used the incident reports, the alleged victim’s interview, and Mr. Paniagua’s interview.
Mr. Paniagua’s sexual history and social history was examined for any red flags. The psychiatrist stated that sometimes doubts of sexual orientation or suicide attempts can be red flags. However, Mr. Paniagua did not present any factors that could be worrisome for the expert.
The defendant’s alcohol and employment history was also examined. The only red flag the psychiatrist found was that the defendant regularly drinks alcohol.
Mr. Paniagua’s overall attitude during the interviews with the psychiatrist were polite and cooperative. He was not overly emotional, and did not refuse to answer any questions. The psychiatrist found that the defendant’s answers appeared logical, coherent, and real.
The psychiatrist found that Mr. Paniagua had a low level deviance or predisposition to commit a sexual abuse crime. His overall scores indicated a low risk for perpetrating sexual assault.
During the cross-examination by the People, the witness stated that no test can be used to say someone is not a child abuse molester with absolute certainty.
Next, Mr. Paniagua’s nephew, Mr. X, testified. Most of his testimony consisted of describing his uncle’s friendliness toward kids and adults.
Mr. X, who appeared to be in his early 20’s, explained that he loved playing with his uncle as a kid.
Mr. Paniagua was always willing to play, even after a long day at work. The witness also expressed that he never seen his uncle touch him or his brother and sister inappropriately.
The family itself is very affectionate and commonly greets people with a hug and a kiss. Mr. Paniagua is no different, and he hugs everyone regardless of their gender.
Furthermore, the third witness was a family friend, Ms. Y. She has known Mr. Paniagua for about 10 years and has no problem allowing her three sons be around him.
She considers herself a vigilant mother but has never seen Mr. Paniagua as a threat to her children.
Ms. Y explained that Mr. Paniagua treats all children with love, demonstrates affection, and is very respectful.
The last witness was Mr. Paniagua’s wife. Her testimony consisted of her defending her husband and explaining that he is not the type of man who could sexually abuse a child.
She explained that on August 4, 2018, she and her husband went to a baby shower.
Mr. Paniagua entered the home where the baby shower was to use the restroom, but Mrs. Paniagua described his visit to the bathroom as very fast. Also, when he returned he was not acting suspicious in anyway.
Later that night, when Mr. Paniagua was by the karaoke machine with some family friends, a woman walked outside screaming.
The woman accused Mr. Paniagua of kissing her 11-year-old niece. However, the woman’s husband told her that Mr. Paniagua was not that type of person.
After Mr. Paniagua tried to explain that he did nothing to the child and realized that the woman was not calming down, Mr. and Mrs. Paniagua left the party.
Mrs. Paniagua explained that when they were crossing the street, a man from the party began hitting Mr. Paniagua.
Once the fight was broken up, the couple went home and locked the front door. However, the aunt of the 11-year-victim showed up and asked Mrs. Paniagua to go outside.
The woman called the police and when authorities reached the scene they questioned Mr. and Mrs. Paniagua.
Mrs. Paniagua was sure that the police would calm down the situation and was cooperative with the investigator.
During the cross-examination by the People, Mrs. Paniagua was asked why she did not reach out to Investigator Maribel Cortez after she left her business card at her door twice. Mrs. Paniagua explained that during August she was staying at her parents’ house most nights. She did not know that the investigator was trying to contact her.
The jury trial will resume Monday morning.