Judge Dismisses Overcharged Case after Aggressive Defense Work

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By Danae Snell

SACRAMENTO — Long Vu will walk away from a fight with the boyfriend of his wife and a court battle, free of charges but with eight staples in his head.

On October 5, 2019, Vu confronted his wife and her new boyfriend, which led to a physical altercation, a car accident, and a trip to the Kaiser Emergency Room. And then jail—he was charged with felony assault.

Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jack’s attempt to convict defendant Vu failed when, after aggressive defense work, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto quipped, “When you hear assault with a deadly weapon you think, wow that’s serious. I would say the term fender bender captures the term better than assault with a deadly weapon.”

The alleged victim, also known as the wife’s boyfriend, took the stand last week to explain the series of events that took place in a restaurant parking lot.

The alleged victim and his girlfriend were leaving their place of work when the defendant jumped out of the girlfriend’s car—which he had entered with a spare key because he was the girlfriend’ husband—and began “cussing and pointing his finger at them.”

During this encounter, the victim claimed, “I don’t know what he tried to do and I felt threatened” so he threw the first punch—which led to a physical altercation that lasted “longer than a minute.”

The victim’s girlfriend, also known as the defendant’s wife, claims she broke up the fight with the help of a few bystanders once blood became visible on the men’s bodies.

After the altercation concluded it became apparent that the defendant, Long Lu, was bleeding severely from his head and the alleged victim was not, according to the victim.

The victim and the bystanders apparently then “told Mr. Lu to leave,” and then the victim and his girlfriend began to walk to their vehicle to leave the scene as well. As the victim attempted to leave they soon realized that the encounter was not over.

“When I started pulling out a little bit we heard a bystander say something and after that I heard a car ram into our car,” alleged the victim, claiming it was “Long driving the car” that struck their vehicle.

Then the victim stated he exited the truck to confront Mr. Vu to “talk to him and ask what happened.”

Instead of answering the victim’s question, the defendant reversed his vehicle and started “to come over and step on the gas real quick and swerved over to where I was standing trying to hit me and took off” according to the victim.

The damage to the truck after the incident was estimated to cost $10,000 for repair.

This story took a different turn once the defendant’s private defense attorney Josh Kaizuka revealed key details involved in the case.

He began his cross-examination by asking the alleged victim, “Did you know that the vehicle was financed and co-signed with my client?”

“No,” claimed the victim.

Then he asked, “At the time you threw the first punch you had a bowl in your hand correct?” and the victim confirmed that.

However, when Kaizuka asked the victim if he “hit him (the defendant) over the head with the bowl” the victim claimed, “I don’t remember,” suggesting his lapse of memory was due to his heightened adrenaline and feeling threatened.

The defense not only established rightful ownership of the vehicle by the defendant, but also introduced photos of Vu’s bloody clothing after the incident and his appearance after leaving the ER.

After showing the court the injuries the defendant sustained during this incident, Kaizuka attacked the victim’s credibility by informing the court of his background, which included a 2017 incident where the victim was “convicted of filing a false police report” that was related to a hit-and-run incident caused by him.

Defense counsel Kaizuka began his closing argument by noting, “The initial assault was started by the alleged victim who had a bowl in his hand and doesn’t remember using it to strike my client; but clearly the evidence shows that my client was bleeding from the head.

“My client was trying to get to the hospital and the collision with the truck was an accident. He did not try to hit anyone and the alleged victim even stated he was not sure if he had to move in order to avoid being hit,” Kaizuka said, adding, “Clearly if a vehicle or property is purchased during a marriage then it is community property and you cannot damage your own property.”

Before allowing the DDA to argue his case, the judge mentioned, “Just to give you some indication of reading the room here, I am very concerned about these charges. He was severely injured, bleeding profusely. I don’t know if it was a mutual combat or an assault by the victim.

“He also has his wife who’s getting a divorce dating this new boyfriend then getting a beating by the boyfriend’s hands and now he’s being charged as well. I am not sure where the DA’s office is coming from.” concluded the judge.

The DDA stood with his charges and tried justifying them by reminding the court, “there is a divorce and at the time that this occurred Mr. Vu was sitting in the back of the truck and it was not until the defendant popped out that this started. This isn’t a situation where the victim found the defendant and started attacking him.

“I am not disputing that the defendant got injured and for lack of a better term the defendant lost the fight and had to go to the hospital” the DDA argued.

The DDA concluded by arguing that the accident could not have truly been an accident because “he drove straight to the hospital, approximately a 30-minute drive, never losing consciousness. Which I would think disputes self-serving hearsay that the accident was caused because he was disoriented or going in and out of consciousness.”

Even after the DDA’s arguments, the judge still remained unconvinced stating, “There was no weapon or any type of evidence showing that he went there for an assault.”

Judge Acquisto was disappointed in the DDA’s lack of investigation in this case, especially after charging the defendant with an assault with a deadly weapon, and noting the alleged victim was the one that caused great bodily harm to the defendant, using a hard shell bowl.

The judge expressed, “I feel bad, kind of makes my stomach turn.”

Judge Acquisto ruled, “It does not appear that the offense charged in the complaint was committed and therefore I find insufficient reason to believe that the defendant is guilty. So, I will exonerate the bond and that is it.”

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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