By Lea Barrios
Deputy District Attorney Daniele Schlehofer described defendant Jesus Reyes’ alleged crime “egregious” in her closing argument.
Jesus Reyes is charged with false imprisonment, corporal injury, and intimidating witnesses or victims. The trial is coming to a close as the defense and prosecution delivered their closing arguments on Jan. 29, 2020, and the jury began deliberating.
Deputy DA Schlehofer began her closing argument by playing the 911 recording from the witnesses who claimed to see Reyes in the parking lot of their apartment complex and yelled at him to let go of the alleged victim. The witnesses were concerned for the alleged victim, despite fearing for their own safety, said Ms. Schlehofer.
She showed a picture of the defendant’s hand, which was swollen from allegedly punching and hitting.
While reviewing witnesses’ testimonies, Ms. Schlehofer said the alleged victim’s testimony minimized the truth and was an “excuse” for the defendant because she loves him and tried to protect him with her testimony. Additionally, she reminded the jury that their duty is to seek justice.
She refuted the alleged victim’s story of climbing a tree because, if she were to have fallen out of a tree, she would have had injuries on her legs or arms – but the only injuries she had were on her face and neck.
She urged the jury to charge the defendant on all counts because of the eyewitness’ testimony and because the defendant’s behavior showed that he had consciousness of guilt. The first is the fact that he pointed and yelled to the witnesses to “mind their business” and they shouldn’t say anything to anyone. That phrase was an intentional attempt to prevent a witness from reporting an assault. He fled from the parking lot without going to a friend’s apartment, which was the reason why he and the alleged victim were there.
Another example of his having a consciousness of guilt is that he lied to police officers about the alleged victim’s presence when they arrived at his house. The officers asked if she were there and he said she was at an AA meeting. After observing the house, an officer saw her through a window – which meant the defendant lied about her being there.
Ms. Schlehofer pointed out that the testimony of the defendant’s ex-girlfriend shows that his alleged past of domestic abuse mirrors the actions that he was charged with.
Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt told the jury that they should rely on direct evidence rather than circumstantial evidence, contrary to what Ms. Schlehofer said in her closing statement.
He cast doubt on the validity of one of the witnesses’ testimony, because he was a minor and had been in a car accident earlier in the day – claiming it could have affected his memory of the later incident. He pointed out that the witness in the preliminary hearing was vague when he recalled, when asked by the dispatcher, what the defendant allegedly yelled at him.
Mr. Van Zandt stated that whether or not the defendant used a racial slur toward the witnesses based on their religion or clothing has no bearing on the case. He heavily refuted Counts 2 and 3 of intimidating witnesses or victims.
He stated that it is not a crime to try to break up a fight, and for one of those in the fight to tell another person to stay out of it. This is in regard to the charge of intimidating a witness when the defendant allegedly told them not to say anything to anyone. He used an analogy of two schoolboys fighting in a yard to demonstrate what he meant.
During her rebuttal, Ms. Schlehofer stated that the witness was vague during the 911 call because it’s a dispatcher’s job to locate an assailant and not to receive a full, detailed statement. She emphasized the validity of circumstantial evidence again, in response to what Mr. Van Zandt said.
The jury is currently deliberating on the verdict.