By Julia Martinez
WOODLAND – The jury trial for Daniel Vallejo came to an end as the closing arguments from both sides wrapped up this morning and the jury began deliberating.
Mr. Vallejo is charged with criminal threats, criminal street gang participation, driving under the influence, and an enhancement of refusing to take a blood test after his car was towed from Burger Saloon in Woodland.
Defense Attorney Mathew Martinez began his argument with the context of what happened that night: Mr. Vallejo was allegedly out drinking with his brothers, mourning his father’s death from previous months before, when he had to Uber to the tow yard to retrieve his car and dog.
Mr. Martinez’s argument acknowledged that Mr. Vallejo was drunk and made threats to the victims, however, he argued that they were empty drunken threats. He emphasized, when factoring in the alcohol and his dog, that Mr. Vallejo was upset and acted as any drunk person, “talking crap.” He stated there was no sustained fear proved by the prosecution.
He argued that the threats Mr. Vallejo made did not amount to a crime. Since he was so drunk, he could not have had specific intent to benefit a gang when making these threats, because that would require more thinking than someone that drunk would be capable of.
Next, Mr. Martinez addressed how the prosecution spent more time on the 2016 incident in which Mr. Vallejo was an accessory than the incident that they are actually in court for.
He pointed out possible discrepancies in the prosecution’s witness Deputy Ney from the 2016 case – that there was no proof Mr. Vallejo was a gunman, without Mr. Vallejo cooperating with law enforcement they would not have been able to put away Alejandro Loza Quezada, and Deputy Ney minimized the case as a whole to fit the prosecution’s agenda.
Mr. Martinez argued that Mr. Vallejo is a drop-out and is no longer affiliated with the Vario Bosque Norteños. He showed suspicion that Deputy Ney’s “memory became hazy” during the cross-examination regarding whether or not Mr. Vallejo was housed with the drop-outs, rather than the Norteños.
The defense also contended that Deputy Ney’s testimony was invalid when he testified that an ex-gang member who is a drop-out or snitch could not live in that same area without repercussions. Mr. Martinez then questioned how Sureños, a rival gang, are also pocketed in the area without repercussions if that were the case.
Mr. Martinez ended his closing statement by reiterating that Mr. Vallejo did not have the capacity for specific intent in these threats and that there was no immediate prospect in the case.
During his rebuttal, Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hasapes began by stating the word “prospect” means “a possibility” and that there was, in fact, an immediate prospect toward the victim that those threats were going to be carried out.
Mr. Hasapes contended that, when considering cases of voluntary intoxication as evidence, a person has to be so drunk that they are unable to have a specific intent. However, he argued that Mr. Vallejo knew what he was doing; he had to locate the tow company, call an Uber, sign his name directly on the papers, and find his car in the lot without problems.
The prosecutor also stated that the owner of the tow company withholds cars from people if they appear to be too drunk but, with Mr. Vallejo, this was not the case. He argued that Mr. Vallejo was also able to answer police questions.
In response to Mr. Martinez’s claims about the 2016 case, Mr. Hasapes argued that he put 2016 witnesses on the stand to fulfill the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard and to give the jury a foundation to show that the crime happened and that Mr. Vallejo had a relation with the Vario Bosque Norteños.
Regarding the arguments centered around Deputy Ney, Mr. Hasapes said the witness never labeled the defendant as a drop-out or snitch. Mr. Hasapes stood by his claim that Mr. Vallejo was an active gang member at the time and would have faced repercussions by now if he were no longer affiliated with the Vario Bosque Norteños.
Ending his rebuttal, Mr. Hasapes pointed out how Mr. Vallejo admitted to the threats he made, and, if he really was not affiliated with the gang, he would likely want to stay under the radar. Instead, Mr. Vallejo allegedly, in his threats, identified with the Norteños and said they run the town.
The jury is currently deliberating on the verdict.