By Lauren Jaech
Jurors were restless in court this morning watching a 40-minute video of witness testimony in the case of the People v. Muñoz.
Mr. Muñoz is on trial in Department 11, facing charges of felony assault by force and criminal street gang activity for an incident that occurred on June 14, 2018, with another youth in the juvenile detention facility.
The majority of time on Wednesday morning was spent watching video testimony given by Kelly Richardson, a family therapist who works with delinquent youths in Woodland.
Ms. Richardson testified that she counseled the defendant for two years, in and out of custody.
She felt, based on their interactions, that he displayed traits consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and impulse control disorder. Ms. Richardson attributed the PTSD to a car crash that occurred wherein Mr. Muñoz was injured, and his best friend was killed.
The witness stated that the defendant’s assault and attempted assault could have been triggered by hearing something that reminded him of his trauma, consistent with a PTSD diagnosis.
She testified that the youth that the defendant attempted to struck would often bang on doors and purposefully irritate other juveniles in the facility, which frustrated the defendant. Mr. Muñoz had also told her that a different youth, whom the defendant had tried to strike, was allegedly a member of a rival gang and had posted about Muñoz’s deceased friend on social media, “Rest in Piss.”
Ms. Richardson explained that this could have been a trigger that led to the defendant’s attempted assault.
When asked if there were any gang-related reasons the defendant might have been aggressive, the witness explained that it also could have been an act of retaliation for the disrespectful post.
She also acknowledged that the first assault mentioned, when the defendant successfully made contact, could have been because that youth was in bad standing in the defendant’s own gang and the assault could have been to send a message.
Two other witnesses testified in court today. The first was Riley Dennis, a detention officer at the juvenile detention facility, who testified that he saw Mr. Muñoz strike a youth in the day room and continue to strike him while the youth was on the ground.
Eventually, the officer was able to separate the two. He also testified that the youth who was struck was sitting quietly and did not seem to display any antagonistic behavior toward the defendant.
The other witness brought to the stand was a man who played basketball with the youth in the juvenile detention center.
He testified that he saw the defendant play basketball on the same team as both the youth he struck and the youth he attempted to strike, without any altercations occurring or acts of aggression.
The witness also testified that Mr. Muñoz was very polite to him in the times they interacted.
The trial was set to resume Wednesday afternoon with closing arguments.