By Danielle Silva
The DUI trial with the defense seeking one not guilty verdict out of six ended with a jury decision of guilty on all counts.
Arthur Fernando Samoro had been arrested on December 27, 2018. He had been driving over 90 mph past a police vehicle and continued to drive for 10 minutes after pursuing officers began their lights and sirens. He was charged with six counts, with the defense only seeking not guilty on one: evading a peace officer.
The defense had openly stated that the defendant acknowledged he drove under the influence, drove at a speed 30 mph over the limit, and drove with a blood alcohol content of over 0.08 percent. He also admitted to possession of drug paraphernalia, referring to a meth pipe. However, the defense had argued that Samaro had not been evading the officers. Mr. Samoro knew he was going to be arrested and was not evading or resisting the police – rather, the defense stated he was trying to bring the car home so the car would not be towed and result in a large number of fees for his grandmother, the owner of the car.
The officers during the trial had noted that the defendant’s failure to pull over after 10 minutes led to their calling back-up, especially considering his other traffic violations, after the sirens were turned on. Mr. Samoro drove past several stop signs, reached near 120 mph, and had driven off the road for some time before driving back on. Since they didn’t know why the defendant continued to drive erratically, the officers called back up for safety.
As the jury delivered the verdict of guilty on all counts, the defense polled the jury for their personal verdicts on the charge of evading the officer. All jury members agreed the defendant was guilty.
Previous: Police Officer’s Testimony and Closing Arguments in Evasion Trial
By Amy Schwanhausser
The accused claimed his grandma’s voice guided him in a high-speed car chase, explaining that he was simply trying to return her car, not evade the police.
This morning in Department 14, the trial of Arthur Fernando Samaro concluded with the testimony of a Woodland police officer and closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense.
Mr. Samaro has been accused of six charges, including driving under the influence of alcohol, possessing controlled substances and paraphernalia, and resisting and evading a police officer. While the prosecution and defense accepted Mr. Samaro’s admission that he was driving under the influence and was carrying methamphetamine and a meth pipe in his pockets, they disagreed on the evasion charge.
The final witness was Officer Juan Barrera, a canine officer with the Woodland Police Department, who testified about his involvement in the pursuit and arrest of Mr. Samaro. On the night of December 27, 2018, Officer Barrera responded to a California Highway Patrol officer’s request for the assistance of a canine officer. When Officer Barrera arrived at Mr. Samaro’s home in Woodland, the scene quickly became animated. Two CHP officers, Officer Barrera, and the police canine gathered behind Mr. Samaro’s parked car.
From his vantage point, Officer Barrera recalled that Mr. Samaro was shuffling around in the car and was not responding to any of the officers’ commands to show his hands. Unprompted, Mr. Samaro exited the car and faced the officers. Then he dashed to the front door, which prompted Officer Barrera to deploy the canine.
The canine bit Mr. Samaro around his left knee, but Mr. Samaro managed to run through the house to his garage. The officers found Mr. Samaro there on his knees with his hands up. Officer Barrera pinned Mr. Samaro to the ground and then stepped back to let one of the highway patrol officers handcuff Mr. Samaro. In either instance, Officer Barrera did not recall Mr. Samaro hitting his head on the floor or couch.
This topic was revisited when Officer Barrera was questioned about his brief visit to Mr. Samaro outside the hospital. This occurred before Mr. Samaro received medical treatment for the canine bite. Officer Barrera asked if Mr. Samaro had seen the canine when he exited the car and when the canine bit him. Mr. Samaro replied, “No,” to both questions and added that his “mind was in a fog.” Officer Barrera revealed he did not ask Mr. Samaro to explain what that statement meant or if he had hit his head.
The closing arguments from both sides highlighted the central issue of this case: the alleged evasion of a police office.
The defense did not contest the other five charges. Mr. Samaro’s counsel stipulated that he drove without a valid license, had a usable amount of meth on his person, and that the meth pipe was his. Defense also admitted that there was a blood alcohol content of .14 percent and traffic cameras proved the drunk driving and traffic violation charges.
However, the defense insisted Mr. Samaro did not intend to evade a police officer, but was merely trying to delay his arrest. In a statement recorded on the dash camera, Mr. Samaro can be heard telling officers he was just “trying to bring Grandma’s car back home. Sh*t. I didn’t want it towed.” Mr. Samaro hoped that if he parked the car at his house, his grandma would not have to pay towing and impound fees. His counsel insisted it was a moment of poor judgment, but that all he could hear was his grandma’s voice begging him not to get her car towed.
Furthermore, Mr. Samaro was accused of evading a police officer when he ran into the garage. His counsel attributed this as a panicked response to the chaotic scene of three police officers shouting commands and an energetic canine. The defense claims there was no intent to avoid arrest. Instead, he was afraid for his safety and ran inside so that he could have his mom witness his arrest.
In both of these examples, the defense insisted Mr. Samaro accepted he was going to be arrested. His intention was to delay arrest, not avoid it completely. Therefore, the defense claimed he is not guilty of evasion.
The prosecutor insisted Mr. Samaro’s actions revealed the intent to evade the police. The pursuing CHP officer testified Mr. Samaro’s speed fluctuated between 96 and 120 mph on Interstate 5. These dangerously high speeds indicated a purposeful avoidance and evasion of the police. Mr. Samaro also bailed from the freeway twice, which the prosecutor interpreted as an attempt to avoid the officers. In order to drive his grandma’s car to her house, Mr. Samaro had to avoid the pursuing police officers and refuse to pull over. Mr. Samaro’s intentions during the car chase were to escape capture. For that reason, the prosecutor claimed he is guilty of evasion.
After these final statements, the court sent the jury to deliberate. They are expected to reach a verdict sometime this week.