By Lona Kwan
A defendant is being charged with three felony charges of assault against a 97-year-old woman, described by the assistant district attorney as “feisty.”
Assistant District Attorney Dane Reinstedt made a brief opening on the morning of September 17, 2019 regarding an alleged assault that involved a woman who is also a retired security guard of a local high school. Reinstedt began by saying the complaining witness frequently goes on walks around her neighborhood with her caretaker.
On the morning of May 3, 2019, the complaining witness and her caretaker came across the defendant and three other people right outside one of the properties she owned. Reinsteidt continued his opening statement by saying that the complaining witness told the group of four people, including the defendant, to leave her property. Reinstedt further explained by saying there is a video of the alleged assault. The alleged assault in the video is the defendant pushing the woman. Reinstedt then asked for the jury to find the defendant guilty.
During a brief break without the jury present, Reinstedt was reviewing the slides made by Deputy Public Defender Niki Solis. Reinstedt objected to Niki Solis showing portions of the transcripts of a conditional exam of the complaining witness. To Solis’s surprise, the judge also objected to the portions of the conditional exam from being included in Solis’s opening statement. However, the exam was already admitted into evidence and will be shown to the jury regardless.
Solis rightfully argued that denying the highlighted material of the conditional exam in her opening is effectively denying her ability to provide an opening statement on behalf of her client. The judge still denied Solis’s right to include pertinent information in her opening statement.
Solis, despite the judge’s ruling, pushed ahead. She opened by emphasizing that the area where the alleged assault took place has a lot of tension due to gentrification and homelessness. Solis continued by saying that the complaining witness and her son owned several properties in the neighborhood and how the complaining witness is extremely vigilant in her community. Solis furthered explained this by saying how the complaining witness had always complained about people drinking, doing drugs and sleeping on her property and she has to watch over her neighborhood.
Solis also made a point of saying how on the day of the alleged assault, the caretaker told the complaining witness that the group of people standing right outside her property were “just having a conversation” and told her to “not go over there.” A video of the incident was played where it showed the complaining witness confronting the defendant. The only physical contact, a small push, was between the defendant and the complaining witness.
Solis explained, while there is no excuse for the defendant to lay hands on the complaining witness, the defendant felt hostility when she was being told to leave by this “feisty” former security guard. Solis ended her opening statement by saying her client should not be found guilty of felony charges.
The 97-year-old woman will testify tomorrow, 9/18/19 starting at 9:30 am.