By Brooke Pritchard
The witnesses in People v. Reyes presented evidence that was confusing in Department 7, until Officer Alex Torres gave his testimony. The witnesses included a teen who saw the altercation, and the alleged victim. This was a preliminary hearing for Jesus Reyes who is charged with battery, false imprisonment, and dissuading a witness.
The teen that came to the stand confidently explained his story. He urged his mom to go outside to their apartment complex’s parking lot in order to look at their recently damaged family car. While outside, the two heard car screeches. It was a Subaru driven by Jesus Reyes. Jesus accelerated into and abruptly stopped in a parking lot. The teen claimed that he saw Mr. Reyes punching a woman in the head and neck. The woman was raising her arms to shield herself from the blows. She opened the car door. The teen explained that he realized the woman was trying to leave when he saw trash being pushed out of the car with the woman’s feet. The woman was sliding her feet to exit the door, but the car door quickly closed.
The teen’s mom yelled out, “What are you doing to her? Let her go!” Jesus told the mom to say out of his business and threw out Islamophobic slurs. The teen stated this was when he ran to the neighbor’s door to call the police. The teen was able to tell the police the license plate number and give a brief description of Reyes and the victim.
However, the teen was less confident when the prosecution and the defense asked him about clarifications to his description. The teen used wishy-washy qualifying words such as “maybe” and “could be.” At one time the teen mistakenly referred to the head shot of Jesus Reyes when asked if the man in the jumpsuit seated at the defense table was Jesus Reyes (typically, a witness is unable to use the evidence presented in front of them, unless directly asked to look at the evidence). While it was clear the teen was unaware of this procedure, the defense began to aggressively question the teen on why he had to look at the evidence presented to confirm Reyes’ identity. The teen consistently responded that he was unaware he could not use the evidence in front of him to check his work, like he would in school.
The alleged victim took the stand next. She explained that Reyes used to be her physical therapy patient, but has now been her boyfriend for about a year and a half. She explained her day with him. It began with a trip to Burger King and led to a day of various stops. At one point, they ended up at a slough off a levee road. Afterwards, while driving, Mr. Reyes accused his girlfriend of flirting with other men, which led to an argument. The victim described herself as rather dramatic and that therefore her behavior was dramatic during the fight. She also claimed that he was wrong in the argument.
The victim explained that Reyes ended up parking at the apartment complex in Davis to continue the fight. She contended that he did not punch her. She also stated that she did open the door to the car. She explained she was being dramatic as she was kicking trash out of the car. However, she did not remember who closed the car door. She only remembered that Reyes was reaching for the car door and briefly grazed her face. She then admitted how she felt bad about littering, so she went to reach for the keys in order to ensure Reyes would not drive off without her, especially since the Subaru is hers. As she reached for the keys, Reyes was also reaching for them, which created a head-on collision – which could explain why the witness saw it as a head butt.
The prosecution presented the victim with various images of her injuries during her welfare check. She chalked up the red skin to a skin disease and the black eye to her husband, who has a history of abusing her (she is currently divorcing her husband, but they still live together).
Davis Officer Torres took the stand last. He ran the license plate of the Subaru to find an address, which led him to the victim’s house. However, only the husband was home. When Torres questioned the husband about the victim’s black eye, the husband said he was told that it was caused by a homeless man in Davis, near the area of their residence.
Torres then asked the husband if he could locate the alleged victim. Through Find My Friends, an iPhone app, they were able to locate the victim. Torres drove to the location to find her with Jesus Reyes. Torres completed a welfare check on the victim, which included taking photos of the injuries. Torres also noted that Jesus Reyes’ knuckles were inflamed.
After giving his own account, Torres recalled what was relayed to the police by the mom and son. Torres reported that they said when Jesus Reyes was driving away, he told the witnesses, “You don’t tell anybody.” This claim led to an additional charge: Penal Code section 136.1(b), dissuading a witness.
The court ruled the evidence to be sufficient to hold the defendant to answer. The arraignment will take place on June 6, 2019 at 9 a.m. The request for release from custody for Jesus Reyes was denied on the grounds of his criminal history, which includes stalking and great bodily harm. Jesus Reyes wished to have been released to take care of his mother, who recently had a stroke.